Petition seeking directions to implement the recommendations of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, 2020

Common Cause has partnered with CPIL and Jindal Naturecure Institute to seek directions for the implementation of the recommendations of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, 2020, promulgated in 2012 by the Ministry of Heavy Industries (nodal agency for the automobile sector), and the recommendations of Zero Emission Vehicles: Towards a Policy Framework, promulgated in September of 2019 by the Niti Aayog to curb the problems of Climate Change, Air pollution, and cost of importing fossil fuels to India.

Government’s failure to suitably implement these recommendations is the direct cause of air pollution levels that have turned our cities into virtual ‘gas chambers’ having severe negative health impacts on the lives of citizens and especially those of our children.

This petition has been filed under Article 32 as fundamental rights of citizens to health and clean environment guaranteed under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India are being violated due to governmental apathy in mitigating the impact of Climate Change and Air Pollution partly attributable to emissions from vehicles that burn fossil fuels.

The petitioner's have inter alia sought directions to mandate demand, creation of requisite charging infrastructure and cross subsidization of Electric Vehicles by charging marginal fee on fossil fuel based vehicles as recommended by Niti Aayog to promote gradual adoption of Electric Vehicles.

On March 5, 2019, taking note of the contentions of the petitioners, the bench consisting Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna has ordered the government to apprise it of the status of implementation of the FAME-India scheme.

Further, Dharmendra Pradhan, the Petroleum Minister & Amitabh Kant, the NITI Aayog CEO have recently made statements that the government is aggressively pushing for increased usage of CNG by automobiles, particularly in public transport and made it a priority to encourage Electric Vehicles. 

In order to meet the emission standards of Euro-VI fuels, the country will switch to the usage of ultra-clean BS-VI grade petrol and diesel (Bharat Stage Emission Standards) from April 1, 2020. Additionally, to reduce dependence on conventional oil, sugarcane-extracted ethanol and non-edible oils is being mixed in petrol and diesel and biogas generated from both urban and rural waste is being heavily promoted

A steering committee headed by Niti Aayog CEO has proposed that two-wheelers below the capacity of 150cc sold in the country after March 31, 2025 and three-wheelers sold after March 31, 2023 should only be electric-driven. 

The Niti Aayog has reportedly proposed that after 2030, only electric vehicles should be sold in India. According to the Niti Aayog, 100% EV sale by 2030 can reduce India's import dependence by a big margin. 

In another event, Nitin Gadkari, the member of this Steering Committee said:

With petrol at Rs 80 and diesel at Rs 70 per liter the cost of running vehicles in very high. As a person, you spend Rs 6,000 per month on fuel and if that spend drops to Rs 1,500 per month then I won’t need to come to you to do the marketing for electric vehicles. It will become a natural course, Gadkari said.

The Petroleum Minister has said that while the government is pushing for using electric vehicles, there are no plans to completely ban the use of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles in the near future. He said:

Is there any government paper that mentions that petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from a particular date?” Pradhan asked. “India cannot afford to do that.

On seeking further clarification from the Petroleum Minister, he said:

Niti Aayog or any other arm of the government has never said they would ban the sale of fossil fuel per my understanding, EV is our priority, but so is piped natural gas, compressed natural gas and BS-VI fuel.

The matter is likely to be listed next on September 16, 2019.