Going green: Indian Army buying electric vehicles to reduce emissions

Going green: Indian Army buying electric vehicles to reduce emissions

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made reducing air pollution a top priority, and the Indian Army is joining the effort by announcing the purchase of zero-emission electric vehicles.

“Air pollution has been a major challenge in Delhi,” Lt. Col. Mohit Vaishnava, a spokesman for the Indian Army, said in an official statement. “Governments across the world are investing a lot of resources in fighting this menace. Electric vehicle technology has proved to be a viable alternative by reducing the carbon emission footprint.”

The World Health Organization reported that poor quality air in New Delhi does permanent damage to the lungs of 50% of the city’s children. A 2018 study by India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences estimated that 41% of the city’s air pollution was caused by vehicular emissions.

The Army will begin its transition with the introduction of 10 electric cars in New Delhi as a pilot project, Vaishnava explained. The initiative is a partnership with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of public sector energy firms. The cars are being produced by Mahindra, one of the country’s largest carmakers, reported New Delhi’s Financial Expressnewspaper. The pilot project will involve the Mahindra e-Verito, a four-door, five-seat electric sedan with a range of 110 kilometers on a single charge.

The initiative extends to other government sectors, Vaishnava said. It also is in line with the government’s Make in India program, which was launched in 2014 to encourage manufacturing and investment in India.

“Indian companies like Tata Motors and Mahindra have taken a lead in R&D and manufacturing of electric cars,” he said. “EESL has been the main facilitator in providing these vehicles to various government agencies. The Army’s initiative in encouraging these electric vehicles will go a long way in further development of this technology and its adoption for the general public in the near future.”

The government in February 2019 approved the second phase of Modi’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) program, which aims to install 2,700 electric-vehicle charging stations in metropolitan areas and along major highways, according to the government’s Public Information Bureau. FAME also introduced incentives to motivate Indians to buy electric motorbikes, as well as three- and four-wheel passenger and delivery vehicles. Phase two of the program is scheduled to put 7,000 electric buses on the road.

The 2019-2020 government budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in early July 2019 included a number of measures to promote electric vehicles. She announced that India would soon become a global hub for the manufacture of electric vehicles and that the goods and services tax on electric vehicles would be lowered from 12% to 5%. (Pictured: Electric cars are being used by the Indian Army in New Delhi as part of a push to reduce pollution.)

Switching to electric vehicles is a natural fit for India’s Army, which has a long history of involvement with environmental protection initiatives, Vaishnava emphasized. The Indian Army has a large number of territorial army battalions, “which have done a yeoman service in environmental protection initiatives such as forestation,” he said. “Army units posted in remote and ecologically sensitive areas from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari have been carrying out various activities in close coordination with the local populace to conserve the ecological balance and protect the environment.”

Mandeep Singh is a FORUM contributor reporting from New Delhi, India.