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Maharashtra is considering a radical plan to deregister vehicles that run on petrol and diesel, followed by a complete ban from 2030, two people aware of the development said.

This green mobility plan by one of India’s most industrialized states is being led by Maharashtra’s tourism, environment and protocol minister Aaditya Thackeray and would be a first in India. It involves registering only electric vehicles (EVs), and those powered by other carbon emission-free next-generation fuels such as hydrogen starting 2030.

Maharashtra’s ambitious plan will help reduce India’s total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030 and reduce the carbon intensity of the economy to less than 45% by the end of the decade as promised at COP26.

EV prices are expected to reach parity with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles before 2025.

Last year, the state introduced an EV policy wherein all EVs sold in Maharashtra are exempt from road tax and registration charges. EVs will make up 10% of all new vehicles registrations by 2025, with Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) planning to run an all-electric bus fleet by 2027.

A spokesperson for Maharashtra’s environment department confirmed the development in an emailed response, saying, “Considering the increasing vulnerabilities to climate change, Maharashtra wants to be at the forefront of green innovation and green economy. The climate emergency elucidated in the IPCC report has already been acknowledged by the Maharashtra cabinet."

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), extreme weather events will impact lives, livelihoods and businesses in India and elsewhere in South Asia, calling for immediate steps to mitigate climate change.

Maharashtra has recorded a sevenfold increase in drought events and a sixfold rise in the frequency of extreme floods events over the last 50 years. Implementation of the plan will also burnish India’s green credentials after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised net zero carbon emissions by 2070 in Glasgow last month.

“Maharashtra’s climate change disasters’ compensation in the last 18 months itself is well over $1 billion. It is also observed that a substantial portion of the greenhouse gas emissions are due to the transportation sector. At the same time, there is accelerated innovation in clean mobility, whether it is EV or green hydrogen. To ensure this innovation gets market success and the industry gets a defined timeline for transition, aggressive electrification targets and other clean mobility technologies will be promoted," the spokesperson said.

Some other states are also moving in this direction. Andhra plans to phase out all fossil-fuelled commercial fleet in its cities by 2030. Also, the draft policy for Chandigarh states that only EVs will be registered in the city from 2030.

“At present, the ULBs (urban local bodies) will buy only EVs starting 2022. Local bodies like BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corp) have started doing that. Further, BEST buses plan to go fully electric/non-fossil fuel based before 2027 with a 2023 target of 2,100 electric buses. Eighty percent of Fifteenth Finance Commission’s NCAP (national clean air programme) funds will be used to buy electric buses.

“Now the number of buses for the entire state from this fund deployment would be well over 5,000 as well. Through these actions, the government itself is going to have a major intervention to ensure market success and our EV policy is oriented towards more handholding for enabling this green revolution," the spokesperson said.

In response to a query about the expected revenue loss to the state exchequer from forgoing road taxes and registration charges for EVs, and not registering any new ICE vehicles, the spokesperson said in the emailed response, “The question needs a change in approach. Today, all mega cities/metropolis are seeing AQIs above 300. Climate tests tell us health expenditures, farmers’ losses due to change in weather patterns, greenhouse gas emissions need to be understood.

“Such effects will far outweigh any initial adjustments that auto sector would have to go through. The climate emergency has also made the investors realise this. The government is also conscious of a just transition from the point of view of jobs," the spokesperson added.

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