Nitin Gadkari at ThinkEdu: In two years, EVs will cost as much as petrol-run vehicles

At the year's virtual edition of ThinkEdu Conclave, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari spoke extensively about electric vehicles, rural India and where he wants to see the country. Read on to know more...
Nitin Gadkari | (Pic: Internet)
Nitin Gadkari | (Pic: Internet)

In what comes as good news for the futuristic electric vehicles (EVs) sector, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, Nitin Gadkari said that, "About 81% of lithium-ion battery is already being manufactured in India and I am confident that within the next six months, we will be in a position to make 100% of lithium-ion battery in the country." Gadkari, who is also the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), was speaking about Education and Entrepreneurship: Roadmap for a New Generation at the virtual ThinkEdu Conclave and he was accompanied by The New Indian Express' Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla.  

Though, as per the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, over 1,55,400 EVs were purchased in 2019-2020 and as Delhi positions itself to become the country's EV capital, with charging points every three kilometres, for an average Indian, purchasing an EV is not within reach yet, with e-cars being as much as 3x the price of a petrol-run car. Yet the government's pro-EV policies, like National Electric Mobility Mission 2020 and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-II) scheme, and the upcoming reports of further incentivising EV manufacturers and now, the news about lithium-ion battery certainly ensures that we are headed in the green direction.    

Gadkari, who is the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, also cleared the air with regards to a "feeling in the market" that there is a shortage of lithium and said that it is not a problem at all. He also expressed belief in the fact that this, their other green moves, will ensure that within the next two years the prices of EV vehicles will be equal to that of a petrol or diesel-run vehicle. He further went on to emphasise the three pillars of Indian society which are ethics, economy, and ecology and environment. With regards to ecology and the environment, he said that, "Pollution is a big concern. Air pollution comes from power plants and automobiles. This is the time when we need to take action," he stated.

Talking about communication, one of the four important aspects of development which include water, power and transport, Gadkari said while IT, electronics and Digital India-wise, lots of things are already happening, but we need to start manufacturing hardware in India. "Now our petroleum import bill is Rs 8 lakh crore. We need to develop computer and electronic hardware in the country. If we don't, our import bill, within five years, will be more than Rs 25 lakh crore," he said.

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In the context of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Gadkari spoke about agriculture, rural and tribal areas and said that these are the government’s highest priority. He said that their policy is to, "Reduce imports, increase exports and develop the agricultural, rural and tribal area." With regards to the latter, he went on to say, "As an MSME minister, my ministry contributes 30% in the GDP growth and 48% of the export of our country is from MSME. Until now, we have created 11 crore jobs. Our idea now is to take 30% of our contribution to GDP to 40%, the 48% export we want to take it up to 60% and we are planning to create five crore new jobs. The village industry turnover is Rs 88,000 crore, within five years we want to make it five lakh crores."

Gadkari spoke about different sectors like education and health and the scope it offers. "We can build 600 medical colleges, 50 AIIMS, open 500 colleges for nursing, for paramedical courses, there is huge potential in the medical sector. With education and skill development, the health sector is important. We need to develop the young generation and give them facilities, like sports," said Gadkari.

The minister also said that waterways and sea transport is the future and to further establish his point he shared that, for example, to transport goods via water it takes just one rupee, while railways take six rupees and by road, 10 rupees. And projects are underway to strengthen this. In some more good news, he mentioned that in a month's time, a portal called Bharat Craft will up wherein products of MSME and Khadi Gram Udyog will be available.

Gadkari had also mentioned that we need to think about urban India, which is India, and rural India, which is Bharat. "I am not taking it in the sense of India vs Bharat. It is the responsibility of India to develop Bharat equally. We cannot discriminate against anybody on the basis of caste, creed, sex or religion for any reason. Sabka saath, sabka vikas (everyone's support, everyone's development). Social and economic equality is important and for that, we need to change our policies."    

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