Respond, court tells government; petition says governmental apathy violated fundamental rights of citizens to health and clean environment guaranteed under under statute

The Supreme Court on Friday sought the response of the government on a petition that alleges the non-implementation of the National E-Mobility Mission Plan, 2020 (NEMMP), which came out in 2012, that made several recommendations for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), including electric-powered government fleets and public transportation and subsidies for those who opt for electric and zero emission vehicles.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde directed the impleadment of the Union Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways through its Minister Nitin Gadkari.

The petition was filed by NGOs Centre for PIL, Common Cause and Sitaram Jindal Foundation, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan.

Also read: Electric vehicles: charging infrastructure needs a jolt to meet 2030 target

The petition contended that the governmental apathy has violated the fundamental rights of citizens to health and clean environment guaranteed under under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The government had failed in its obligation to mitigate the impact of climate change and air pollution partly attributable to emissions from vehicles that burn fossil fuels.

“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," the petition said.

Transport vehicles are currently one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels and more than 99.9% of transport vehicles in India are based on fossil fuels.

Taking cognisance of the evolving global scenario, the government, in 2012, came out with the NEMMP that provided recommendations for incentivising the adoption of EVs.

It had set a target of achieving a sale of seven million EVs by 2020 and thereby aimed to cut total carbon dioxide emissions by three per cent from the ‘do nothing’ scenario.

The recommendations pertained to providing demand and supply side incentives, the creation of requisite charging infrastructure, and the promotion of research and development for localisation and indigenisation. A government investment of Rs. 14,500 crore was called upon to realise the targets.

“Despite moderate targets, due to lack of implementation of the recommendations, as of January, 2019, only 0.263 millions EVs have been sold in the country thus far. Total allocation by the Union of India thus far has been woefully inadequate at Rs. 579 crore,” the petition said.

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