Vice chairman of Niti Ayog Rajiv Kumar.
Vice chairman of Niti Ayog Rajiv Kumar.

NITI Aayog, state govts to chart blueprint for transport reforms

The country aims to embrace full electric mobility by 2030, taking advantage of falling technology cost, says Niti Ayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar

New Delhi: Niti Aayog will prepare a blueprint for the transportation sector jointly with state governments to help achieve goals of electric mobility, wider renewable energy use and job creation, the vice chairman of the federal policy think tank, Rajiv Kumar, said here on Tuesday.

A national strategy for overhauling mobility, especially public transportation, will be launched shortly, Kumar said. The country aims to embrace full electric mobility by 2030, taking advantage of falling technology cost, he said.

“The focus is how to use mobility, a new disrupter globally, to generate jobs and boost growth...The focus will be on public transport and ease of living rather than personal luxury vehicles," said Kumar.

The think tank will hold a two-day global mobility summit starting 7 September in the capital. Industry leaders and policy makers from other countries are expected to attend the event that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate.

Niti Aayog aims to help the country leapfrog into the trajectory of shared, connected and zero emission mobility, said Kumar.

Though Niti Aayog has no powers for fund allocation to states like the erstwhile Planning Commission, the think tank has been playing a role in policy making, the latest among them being expansion of the minimum support price scheme for crops and the national health protection scheme meant to benefit 100 million households.

The country has made strong progress on key economic indicators, Kumar said. The economy is likely to grow at 7.5% in FY19 and may grow at 8% in the following year, he said. “By 2022, the country will start growing at 8.5%, nd thereafter it will sustain it," Kumar said.

The recent softening of the rupee against the US dollar was not a cause for worry as the domestic currency is still overvalued in terms of Real Effective Exchange Rate (REER). The rupee, currently seen close to 69 per dollar, is over-valued by 5-7%, he elaborated.

“There is no question at all of either getting worried, getting nervous or intervening in the market," Kumar said.

The government is committed to seeing that national carrier Air India is turned around in a new format sooner rather than later, Kumar said. Niti Aayog had earlier recommended privatisation of the carrier, but the government’s effort did not evoke investor interest despite initial enthusiasm from many potential buyers. Air India, which is currently on a tax payer bailout, has reported operational profits in FY16 and FY17.