Govt’s Apathy Turning Our Cities Into Virtual ‘Gas Chambers’: Plea In Supreme Court For Adopting Electric Vehicles.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre on a petition demanding implementation of the plans and policies for adoption of electric vehicles to tackle air pollution and climate change. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna ordered the government to apprise it of the status of implementation of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India) scheme and listed the matter to be heard after one month.

The petition has been jointly filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, NGO Common Cause and Sita Ram Jindal Foundation. The petitioners were represented by Advocate Prashant Bhushan. They bring to the attention of the court the fact that the government had released the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, 2020 in 2012, making several recommendations for adoption of electric vehicles. Among other things, the plan had recommended that government fleets and public transportation be switched to electric vehicles; subsidies be provided to consumers for purchase of electric vehicles; provision of tax incentives & policy incentives; and requisite charging infrastructure be created by mandating fast and normal charging points in apartment buildings, parking lots, government offices, malls etc. Also Read – SC To Hear Rafale Review Petitions In CJI’s Chamber On 26th February The petition submits that in order to implement the plan, the government promulgated the FAME-India scheme that does provide subsidies to consumers.

It, however, contends that this scheme failed to mandate demand and charging infrastructure. The petition further alleges that while a modest target of sale of 7 million electric vehicles was set by the 2012 plan, only 0.263 million vehicles have been sold as of January, 2019, “showing a total failure of that scheme”. It further claims that the government has thus far allocated less than 600 crores over a period of 7 years towards the entire scheme, despite the fact that the 2012 plan had called for an investment of 14,500 crores from the government to kickstart demand and creation of charging infrastructure. The petition goes on to rely on Niti Aayog’s policy framework on Zero Emission Vehicles as well, to assert that electric vehicles alleviate the effects of pollution, in terms of the total ‘life cycle’ cost of ownership as well as ‘life cycle’ emission of pollution vis-a-vis fossil fuel based vehicles. Furthermore, relying on Constitutional guarantees for securing healthy environment, it contends,”Articles 39(e), 47 and 48 of Constitution of India collectively cast a duty on the State to securethe health of the people, improve public health, and protect and improve the environment.

The lack of effort on the part of the enforcement agencies, notwithstanding adequate laws hasresulted into spiralling pollution levels. The quality of air is steadily decreasing and no effective steps have been taken by the administration in this behalf……government has abdicated its duty to protect the citizens right to health and clean environment under Article 14 and Article 21. Governmental apathy in suitably implementing there commendations of it’s own agencies has led to spiralling emissions from fossil fuel based vehicles contributing to the problems of Climate Change and Air Pollution turning our cities into virtual ‘gas chambers’.” The petition therefore demands implementation of the FAME-India scheme and Niti Aayog’s recommendations, as well as adoption of internationally recognised best practices for integration of usage of electric vehicles.

 

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