In yet another attempt to minimise usage of fossil fuels in the country, the Indian Government is all set to introduce a lottery system for controlling petrol / diesel car purchases. This would mean that when you are in the market for buying a new petrol / diesel car in the future, you will not be able to simply go to a dealership, pay the price for your selected model and bring home the four-wheeled beauty. Instead, you will be required to submit your name to a centralised government agency that will mark your interest in buying a new car. Then a lottery round will be organised and only those who will win the lottery will be given the permission to get a new petrol / diesel car.
The said proposal has been made as part of a report on transformative mobility solutions by the NITI Aayog. For those who aren’t aware enough, the NITI Aayog is India’s leading think tank and policy commission that is headed by none other than our Prime Minister – Sh. Narendra Modi. The 134-page long report has made three major proposals – making a shift from private car ownership to shared mobility, improving public transport conditions and promoting the use of electric vehicles. With the lottery system, the Government is trying to pull back customers from fossil fuel powered cars.
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In addition to proposing the lottery system, the NITI Aayog report has also mentioned that in order to promote EV usage in India, the government will need to offer hefty subsidies and infrastructural support to customers who are willing to take the electric route. It is obvious that without a fair and potent alternative to the current transportation system that mainly comprises of fossil fuel powered private vehicles, it will be a maniacal decision to simply start a lottery system for petrol / diesel car purchases.
It must be noted that the aforementioned lottery system is still a proposal and the government is yet to make a final call on it.
The said proposal is surely a brave step, if the government eventually decides to go forward with it. However, we believe that taking a step in this direction, especially at this moment and under the current circumstances, won’t be a logical decision in terms of citizen convenience. In order to explain our point, we have listed the positives and negatives of the proposed lottery system.
How can this be beneficial?
- Will ease congestion: Major cities in India are currently suffering from huge road congestion and traffic issues due to a herd of vehicles on its road. With the aforementioned rationing of car purchases, not everyone will be able to get a four-wheeler, which might help in easing congestion and traffic situations of major Indian cities.
- Minimise pollution: With a shift away from fossil fuel powered cars, the government is expecting to limit air pollution. If the said proposal is implemented, it can save around 1 gigatonne of carbon emissions, thus improving air quality.
- Limit fuel import: It is well known that India is a large fuel importer. Over 78% of the fuel imported is used in powering private vehicles. Once these customers ditch fossil fuel guzzling engines in favour of electric powertrains, the need to import huge volumes of fuel will be eliminated. The country is expected $60 million in fuel imports if the aforementioned proposal is implemented.
What’s wrong in this proposal?
- Lack of flexibility: Instead of forcing customers to adopt electric cars, the government must provide enough subsidies and infrastructural support that itself motivates people to invest in this future technology. This will provide more flexibility to customers, which will thus avoid feeling them being forced to follow a certain route.
- No potent alternative: If you drive a four-wheeler regularly, you will understand what being forced to live without a car can result into. India doesn’t really have a robust and citizen-friendly public transport system in place. The condition is more or less similar in all cities. Every train, bus, metro is overcrowded. Hence, pushing more people onto the public transport route will lead to utter chaos. Before the government implements the said proposal, it needs to establish a potent alternative to private cars that people can comfortably use.
- Drop in auto manufacturing sector in India: Once the above rule comes into place, there will be a major drop in the automotive requirement as people won’t be allowed to buy cars. The Indian market is currently home to a vast range of carmakers, along with some other brands like Peugeot and Kia wating to enter the country. However, all these manufacturers might be badly hit if the demand for conventional cars drops down.
As a result, it will be a tough call for the government to decide how to implement the proposal made by NITI Aayog. Eventually, the country will surely adopt electric mobility throughout the four-wheeler and two-wheeler industry. However, we don’t believe now is the right time to take such major actions.