Electrifying India’s transport Editorial 7th May’19 TimesOfIndia

Headline : Electrifying India’s transport Editorial 7th May’19 TimesOfIndia

Details :

Rapid urbanization and transport problems:

  • India’s urban population will nearly double in the next decade.
  • More than half a billion people will live and work in Indian cities.
  • Travel within and between cities will grow exponentially.
  • This rapid growth poses several social, economic and environmental challenges.

Converting this into opportunities:

  • To convert these challenges into opportunities, India needs to prioritise shared and public modes of transportation and turn to new sunrise industries (like electric vehicles) that can help combat pollution, reduce congestion, strengthen energy security and also create jobs.

 

Initiatives aimed at transforming India’s mobility system:

  • Recently, the Union government approved two initiatives:
    • Fame-II: The second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles scheme
    • National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage

Focus on electrification:

  • Both these actions signal India’s commitment to transforming its mobility system, with focus on electrification as the primary technology pathway to achieve this transformation.
  • This focus presents India with a powerful opportunity to emerge as a leader in clean, connected and shared mobility solutions, battery manufacturing and renewable energy integration.
  • Renewably supplied electricity can deliver long-term, fixed cost power supply for mobility services throughout the economy, and solar energy can become a transportation fuel.

Benefits:

  • Energy security: From the perspective of energy security and competitive advantage too, new mobility solutions will reduce oil import costs, lower trade deficits, and limit vulnerability to oil supply disruptions and process shocks.
  • Environmental benefits: Shared, connected and clean mobility solutions will deliver a host of environmental benefits, including cleaner air so Indian citizens can breathe more easily.

 

Future of mobility in India:

  • Addressing the Global Mobility Summit, the Indian Prime Minister outlined a vision for the future of mobility in India based on 7Cs.
  • These 7 Cs include: Common, Connected, Convenient, Congestion-free, Charged, Clean and Cutting-edge.

Steps to achieve these objectives:

  1. Focus on shared electric transportation:
  • India’s per capita car ownership is quite low with fewer than 20 vehicles per 1,000 persons (5% of the people), as compared to 900 per 1,000 in the US and 800 per 1,000 in Europe.
  • India’s low per capita car ownership affords it the chance to pursue a different model from the western world.
  • Our emphasis must be on shared, connected and electric transportation.
  1. Focus on EVs in two and three wheelers segments: 
  • Two and three wheelers constitute almost 80% of India’s domestic automobile sales.
  • India must leverage this and provide impetus to electrification of these two segments to provide size and scale to India’s e-mobility efforts.
  1. Push public transportation:
  • India must push for public transportation to become the preferred mode of travel.
  • At present, India has only 1.2 buses per 1,000 people, which is far below the benchmarks of developing nations.
  • Only 63 of the 458 Indian cities have a formal city bus system and 15 cities have a bus or rail based mass rapid transport system.
  • Public transport must become the core focus area for municipalities and state governments.
  1. Creating an ecosystem for EVs:
  • As we shift from Internal Combustion Engine vehicles (which have 2,000 components) to Electric vehicles (which have 20 components), India must create a unique ecosystem to encourage and ensure Make in India as far as possible.
  • This would require measures, including Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP) across the entire value chain, and an efficient fiscal and tax structure.
  • This ecosystem should also be able to attract global OEMs for manufacturing.
  1. Promote battery manufacturing:
  • Batteries account for almost 40% of the total purchase cost of EVs today.
  • Domestic battery manufacturing is a massive market opportunity for India to rapidly enable the transition to EVs.
  • India has the opportunity to pursue manufacturing of both battery cells and packs while importing only raw materials.
  • With this, India can capture nearly 80% of the total economic opportunity.
  • New battery technologies, like solid-state lithium ion batteries, sodium ion batteries and silicon-based batteries, are under development.
  • India needs to vigorously pursue research and development in these areas and have a clear roadmap for manufacturing on a mega scale.
  1. Creating charging infrastructure:
  • India’s cities must build charging infrastructure to remove worries over the range the EVs can travel.
  • The existing network of our marketing oil companies must be fully utilised to ensure charging facilities in urban areas and highways.

Other steps:

  • Innovation: India must therefore explore newer models of swapping batteries and pay as you go, and facilitate startups that are innovating and disrupting status quo in mobility.
  • Capacity building: Our IITs and engineering institutions must also include courses on new technologies as an essential component of their curriculum.
  • Policies by states: States must drive uptake of these solutions by dynamic models of charging a fee for polluting combustion vehicles, while providing rebates on electric vehicles, and tightening norms of fuel efficiency across vehicle segments.

 

Conclusion:

  • Forecasts indicate that EVs prices will drop and can reach price parity with ICE vehicles by 2024.
  • A recent report by Morgan Stanley has highlighted that half of India’s car fleet will be EVs and half of all miles driven will be on shared platforms by 2040.
    • This is on account of rapid spread of digitisation and mobile telephony and low per capita car usage in India.
  • This new sunrise area can emerge as the biggest catalyst of clean environment, lower trade deficit and new jobs for India.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Indian Economy

 

Related question:

India has committed to transforming its mobility system, with focus on electrification as the primary technology pathway to achieve this. Suggest steps towards achieving this transformation.

Section : Editorial Analysis

The concept of “port led development” is central to the Sagarmala vision.” What is Sagarmala initiative and how can it help in achieving the aim of port led development.

Approach:

• Introduce with India’s potential for port-led development

• Explain Sagarmala initiative with its components

• Explain how it will help in port led development

• Conclude appropriately

Model Answer :

India is richly endowed with natural maritime advantages, a strategic location for key international trade routes, and navigable and potentially navigable waterways. There is great potential for port-led development in India, but to realize it Indian ports must address infrastructural and operational challenges.

Sagarmala initiative:

The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. The Sagarmala Project seeks to reduce logistics costs by developing access to new development regions with intermodal solutions, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services. As part of the programme, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the comprehensive development of India’s coastline and maritime sector has been prepared.

Components of Sagarmala Programme:

1.Port Modernization & New Port Development: De-bottlenecking and capacity expansion of existing ports and development of new Greenfield ports

2.Port Connectivity Enhancement: Enhancing the connectivity of the ports to the hinterland, optimizing cost and time of cargo movement through multi-modal logistics solutions including domestic waterways (inland water transport and coastal shipping)

3.Port-linked Industrialization: Developing port-proximate industrial clusters and Coastal Economic Zones to reduce logistics cost and time of EXIM and domestic cargo

4.Coastal Community Development: Promoting sustainable development of coastal communities through skill development & livelihood generation activities, fisheries development, coastal tourism etc.

How Sagarmala initiative can help in achieving the aim of port lead development?

The concept of “port led development” is central to the Sagarmala vision. Port led development focuses on logistics intensive industries, where transportation either represents a high proportion of costs, or timely logistics are a critical success factor.  The population in adjoining areas would have to be sufficiently skilled to participate in economic opportunities on offer. The synergistic and coordinated development of four components, namely logistics intensive industries, efficient ports, seamless connectivity and requisite skill-base will lead to unlocking of economic value.

Conclusion

India, where the logistics cost around 19% of GDP is amongst the highest in the world, is on the path to complete transformation under the Sagarmala Programme, by unlocking the full potential of India’s coastline and waterways.

Public private partnership is a key model of infrastructure development in India today but there is a need to mature it to deliver infrastructure projects better and faster. Discuss in light of the Kelkar Committee’s recommendations.

Approach

• Give a brief introduction about PPP

• Highlight the various shortcomings in PPP

• Discuss the important recommendation of Kelkar committee

• Conclude appropriately.

Model Answer :

Public private partnership (PPP) is a long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance. A large number of key infrastructure projects today are being implemented in a PPP mode, including airports, highways, ports etc. However, various shortcomings of this model have impacted this model’s effectiveness.

Various shortcomings in the PPP projects:

Delay in projects lead to cost overrun due to which customers have to pay higher charges for the services.

Due to economic conditions like Non-performing assets, private entities are not able to get long term credit.

Elongated timelines due to lack of institutional capacity in the project-award process have been hurting.

Weakening economic growth and the debt overhang problem have constrained both the capacity and flow of private investment in asset creation.

Complex government rules sometimes force private companies to withdraw

In light of this, the Union Finance Minister’s had set up the Committee on Revisiting and Revitalizing the PPP model of Infrastructure Development (Chair: Dr. Vijay Kelkar) in 2015. The committee submitted its report the same year.

Kelkar committee recommendations to revitalize PPP in infrastucture:

Set up an institution for invigorating private investments in infrastructure, providing guidance for a national PPP policy and developments in PPP.

An institutionalized mechanism like the National Facilitation Committee (NFC) to ensure time bound resolution of issues including getting timely clearances.

Essential to set up independent Regulators in sectors going in for PPP.

Build up capacity in all stakeholders, including regulators, authority, consultants, financing agencies, developers

Amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 to distinguish between genuine errors in decision-making and acts of corruption.

Pre-qualified PPP consultancies could be empanelled.

PPPs are an important policy instrument that will enable India to compress time in this journey towards economic growth and development. A successful and growing stream of PPPs in infrastructure will go a long way in accelerating the country’s development process.

Railway Zones of India and Their Divisions

Railway Zones of India and Their Divisions

  • The journey of railways in Indian sub-continent started in 1853 with 34 kilometers (kms).
  • First rail ran on 16th April, 1853 and covered the 21-mile distance in about 75 minutes from Bombay to Thane.
  • The Railway Board in 1950 decided for the regrouping of the Indian Railways into six zonal systems, namely:
  1. Northern
  2. North Eastern
  3. Southern
  4. Central
  5. Eastern
  6. Western Railways.
  • At Present, there are 17  railway zone.
  • The Metro Railway of Kolkata became the country’s 17th Railway Zone in 2010.

FASTags:

  • FASTag is a device that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it.
  • It is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas, without stopping for cash transactions.
  • The tag can be purchased from Tag issuers and if it is linked to the prepaid account, then recharge/ top up can be made as per the requirement.
  • Benefits of using FASTag:
    • Cashless payment
    • Faster transit
    • Online recharge
    • SMS alerts

What is ‘Swiss challenge’ approach?

Swiss challenge method is a process of giving contracts. Any person with credentials can submit a development proposal to the government. That proposal will be made online and a second person can give suggestions to improve and beat that proposal.

  • It is a method where third parties make offers (challenges) for a project within a designated period to avoid exaggerated project costs.

Swiss model: 

The government plans to adopt the ‘Swiss Challenge’ mode to invite bids for redeveloping the stations.

How Swiss model operates? 

  • First, the government will invite developers to submit their master plans.
  • After evaluating the proposals, the selected design will be uploaded over the Ministry of Railways website.
  • Financial bids will be invited and the developer quoting the highest upfront premium to be paid to the government will win the bid.
  • However, the project developer, who had originally submitted the plan, will be given an opportunity to match the bid amount.

The government will also ensure that the developer has prior experience in the field of passenger transportation such as railway stations, airports or ports or construction experience in the core sector.

Smart Cities

what are Smart Cities?

  • A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability.
  • It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents.
  • There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.
  • In a smart city, economic development and activity is sustainable and rationally incremental by virtue of being based on success-oriented market drivers such as supply and demand.
  • They benefit everybody, including citizens, businesses, the government and the environment.

What are the core infrastructure in a Smart City?

  • According to the documents released on the Smart Cities website, the core infrastructure in a smart city would include:
  • Adequate water supply
  • Assured electricity supply
  • Sanitation, including solid waste management
  • Efficient urban mobility and public transport
  • Affordable housing, especially for the poor
  • Robust IT connectivity and digitalisation
  • Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation
  • Sustainable environment
  • Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly
  • Health and education

India’s First Coastal Corridor

Vishakhapatnam – Chennai Costal Corridor

  • The Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor section of the East Coast Economic Corridor, connecting four economic hubs and nine industrial clusters, will mark the first industrial corridor developed along India’s coast.
  • The East Coast Economic Corridor will ultimately extend from Kolkata to Tuticorin
  • The Indian government is keen to encourage manufacturing, including through its “Make in India” initiative, to maintain strong economic growth over the longer term and to create productive, well-paying jobs for a labor force that is growing by around 12 million people per year.
  • The program will also focus on increasing women’s participation in the industrial workforce.
  • Skills training for 25,000 male and female workers, entrepreneurs, and students along with an investor promotion plan is expected to help develop businesses along the corridor.