The hazardous effects of pollutants from conventional fuel vehicles have caused the scientific world to move towards environmentally friendly energy sources. Though we have various renewable energy sources, the perfect one to use as an energy source for vehicles is hydrogen. Hydrogen fuel cell technology represents one of the alternative solutions for future clean energy systems. Recently, The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified standards for the safety evaluation of hydrogen fuel cell-based vehicles. The move is primarily aimed at a significant push for hydrogen vehicles in the country.
FASTag is made mandatory for all vehicles, private and commercial, from January 15, 2020. According to the FASTag transactions data released on January 1, 2020, by National Payments Corporation of India, about 6.4 crore FASTag transactions, worth Rs.1,256 crore, were processed in December against 3.4 crore transactions worth Rs.774 crore in November. Paytm Payments Bank issued over 40% of all FASTags in December. Currently, the government is taking the necessary steps to promote it.
Recently, Government of India privatized the Tejas express running from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, which is operated by the IRCTC, arm of the Indian railways. Indian Railways has launched itself on the road to privatisation by flagging off the Tejas Express running between Lucknow and Delhi and announcing plans to privatise the running of as many as 150 passenger trains. Privatisation of railways has benefits like improved efficiency, services, operations, etc. At the same time, it has disadvantages like it can’t provide affordable services, informalisation of jobs, revenue loss to the government in the form of a dividend, etc.
Last year, India’s aviation sector saw numerous problems. Amid an overall economic downswing, the sector started 2019 with the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the country following the deaths of over 300 people in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airways crashes. Then it witnessed the closure of India’s only privately-owned full-service carrier Jet Airways. By the end of that year, Air India sought to go down the privatisation route to save itself from towering debts. There were also notable incidences of runway excursions in some of India’s prominent airports, which brought forth doubts on the sector’s overall safety standards. The technical glitches and increasing debts are leading to the reducing potential of India’s civil aviation market.
The government has set the target of achieving 100% Electric vehicles by 2030. Manufacturing and putting the electric cars on road is the vision to make India pollution free along with saving billions of dollars in fuel cost and creating new job opportunities. However, there are also criticisms that India is not yet ready for electric vehicles which we will discuss in this article with a suitable way forward.
India is a victim of numerous road accidents annually. Road safety is a necessary measure that needs to be taken for the safety of all road users. It is the all-encompassing methods and measures used to prevent road users from being killed or injured. The typical road users include pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, vehicle passengers and passengers of on-road public transport. India’s road safety is the worst in the record. About 149,000 people lost their lives on Indian roads in 2018 alone. India accounts for about 2% of motor vehicles globally. Yet, it is the home for more than 11% of the world’s road traffic deaths. According to a UN study, India loses 3% of its GDP to road accidents by removing prime age adults from the workforce. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 was enacted this year to address the hazard of deaths and injuries due to road accidents. According to Union Transport Minister, it could come down by half if the provisions of this Act are implemented stringently.
India’s aviation sector is contributing about 30 billion USD to India’s GDP. India is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world. Nearly 90% of the aviation traffic is at the domestic level. This means that UDAN scheme or the Regional Air Connectivity Scheme is an asset to the aviation sector. However, this scheme alone cannot address the growing crisis in the aviation sector. The government must launch a viable policy to support the growth of this sector.
A few years back, Beijing and Delhi were competing with each other for being some of the most polluted cities in the world. Between 2000 and 2009, Beijing was far worse than Delhi in terms of air pollution. However, in recent years, the air quality of Beijing began improving while Delhi’s pollution levels continued to increase. In 2017, the concentration of PM 2.5 (particulate matter with a size of 2.5 microns or less) in Beijing was less than half that of Delhi. The number of “very unhealthy” days in Delhi is four times more than that of Beijing. The reason behind Beijing’s successful reduction of atmospheric pollution is due to the series of stringent measures to reduce the carbon emission into the atmosphere. One among them is the focus on the automobile sector. In 2017, the quota for new vehicles was fixed at 150,000 cars of which 60,000 was allotted only to the fuel-efficient cars. In 2018, this quota was reduced to 100,000. Although an average Indian contributes only a microscopic amount of transport-related carbon dioxide emissions to the global climate change, congested streets and polluted air are common aspects seen in the Indian metropolises. It is not only discomforting on a daily basis but is also a long-term health hazard to those who are living in big cities like Delhi.
Whether we realise it or not, the drinking water scarcity problem that we see in different parts of India today is a direct result of climate change. India is very vulnerable to climate change — melting Himalayan glaciers will produce floods in north India; erratic monsoons will create droughts in peninsular India.
Global action against climate change is not enough even if the Paris Agreement is followed in letter and spirit which is already weakening due to nations such as the US and Brazil walking away from it. Therefore India will have to assume the worst of impacts of global warming and tailor its programmes accordingly.
With the threat of floods and droughts looming in various parts of the country, there is no option but to make the 150-year-old idea, that is, Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) happen, and fast. The NDA government has always been in favour of inter-linking of rivers and it is to be hoped that the government sees ILR in the light of climate action, rather than a developmental move.