With Rest Of India, Assam Is On Its Way To An Electric Future

With Rest Of India, Assam Is On Its Way To An Electric Future

Atiqul Habib | November 02, 2019 14:31 hrs

GUWAHATI: In a bid to curb pollution, the Centre has directed all the states to promote the use of electrically operated vehicles and solar power.

The Centre has come up with several policies and schemes to boost the demand and manufacture of electric vehicles (EVs) and solar operated devices.

Towards initiating this need of the hour scenario, a workshop "Northeast Electric Mobility Conclave" was held in Guwahati on October 30 last.

The workshop was attended by a host of dignitaries along with Managing Director (MD) of Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC), Anand Prakash Tiwari, Anil Srivastava and Principal Consultant, Mission Director, Niti Aayog among others.

The workshop laid stress on the importance of use of EVs in the near future in order to balance out the Particulate Matter (PM) in a suitable condition.

PM 2.5 are fine particulate matters suspended in the air measuring two and a half microns or less in width. There are around 25,000 microns in an inch. Presence of high levels of PM 2.5 in the air reduces visibility and causes the air to appear hazy and can pose serious health-related risks among people including respiratory diseases.

Speaking at the event, ASTC MD, Anand Prakash Tiwari, said that Assam has already taken up measures to curb the air pollution by introducing e-buses which will run under the FAME scheme in Guwahati.

Further, Tiwari added that in the 1st Electric Mobility Conclave, the state government was able to outline the FAME 1 and FAME 2 schemes along with the help of the central government.

FAME 1 was based on capital expenditures (CAPEX) model which was implemented in many cities in India including Guwahati and under which 15 buses have been introduced.

On the other hand, FAME 2 is based on operating expenses (OPEX) model in which the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises have allocated 100 buses in Assam. 

It is to be mentioned that in the coming years operating expenses (OPEX) model of financing will be implemented. Although many private manufacturers and operators have come forward advocating the OPEX model, the cost effectiveness plays a major role in its way.

Assam state government has already prepared the EV draft policy and has submitted the same to the central government. However, before going to the cabinet, claims and objections have to be taken from several departments after which, in the coming days, Assam will be able to present the policy soon in the cabinet and ensure that it is passed.

"With CM Sonowal's vision of a pollution-free Assam, we are committed to provide emission-free public transport," added ASTC MD, Tiwari.

In the meanwhile, the state government is also working out a scheme in which free e-bikes will be provided to students of 10th and 12th standards. The basic aim of this scheme will be to create awareness among the students on electric mobility and clean environment.

Interestingly, the workshop was attended by many entrepreneurs from Guwahati as well as from the state that showcased battery operated scooters and bicycles.

The entrepreneurs also projected the cost effectiveness of their products which stands out to be promising for the buyers. 

ASTC to flag off 15 e-buses on November 4 in Guwahati

As part of measures to check the deteriorating air quality of the state, Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) is all set to introduce 15 electric buses from November 4.

While addressing media persons, ASTC Chairman, Ashok Kr Bhattarai, stated that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal aim for a clean and green India. Talking further he stated that the introduction of electric vehicles will help to tackle the menace of air and sound pollution.

It is to be mentioned that Guwahati has one of the highest black carbon pollution levels in the world. 

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Heavy Industries has sanctioned 100 electric buses for Assam, out of which 50 will be in Guwahati and 25 each in Silchar and Jorhat respectively under FAME 2.

According to reports, the Department of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise under Government of India has sanctioned 5,595 electric buses to 64 cities for intra and intercity operations in a bid to promote clean mobility in public transportation.

Each selected city and state transport undertaking was asked to initiate the procurement process for deployment of sanctioned electric buses in a time-bound manner.

Guwahati would emulate Delhi’s pollution levels if efforts are not taken 

Experts in the Northeast Electric Mobility Conclave revealed that Guwahati, with its increasing pollution levels escalated by vehicular emissions and with the setting up of new industries, will soon emulate New Delhi if some concrete steps are not taken to curb the pollution levels. 

Guwahati’s pollution scenario, escalated by the increasing numbers of vehicles and with the setting up of new industries, can soon compete with the Delhi’s air quality, said an environmental expert. 

According to a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) updated in September 2017, Guwahati stands in the “High” category with 85.6 Pollution Index on a scale of 100.

The report based on a mass-opinion based data had revealed that air pollution, drinking water pollution and inaccessibility are marked at high category, while dissatisfaction with garbage disposal and unhygienic waste disposal practises are marked at very high category.

According to the WHO report, air pollution level in the city is 75 out of 100, which puts the city into the high category of pollution.

There are basically six atmospheric pollutants or components of Air Pollution Index (API), namely sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), PM 10, PM 2.5, carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone (O3) that are measured at the monitoring stations throughout each city. 

“Guwahati’s condition is not as grim as Delhi, but it is still worrisome. While Delhi reaches a whooping 999 in Air Quality Index (AQI) during the Diwali season, Guwahati, despite having ample reserves of flora in and around, too reaches above 300 in the index. Guwahati’s normal AQI is within the permissible limit of 100-130,” said an environmentalist based in Guwahati.
The state pollution control board said though the AQI reading in the city is slightly better than last year, these are worrying signs as an AQI below 50 means good air quality and a reading beyond 300 indicates that the air quality is hazardous.

As per the National Air Quality index set by the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the 51-100 API is considered ‘good’ while Guwahati falls in lightly polluted category of 101 to 150; New Delhi and Mumbai fall under the highly polluted category of above 300 API.

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