Although a court directive may not be enough, with the right policy incentives, it is possible that natural-gas vehicles could increase the nation's energy security.
The infrastructure needed for vehicles to ply across the length and breadth of Gujarat on Natural Gas doesn’t exist and is not going to come up overnight. So what is to be done in the meanwhile? Yes, a time frame of one year has been provided to the Gujarat government by the court = but what is one year worth of time when it comes to developing infrastructure, even if the government is the much lauded government of Narendra Modi
, known for its efficiency and fast work. Besides, vehicles registered in Gujarat, don’t just ply in Gujarat, they ply in other parts of the country too and obviously vast swathes of the country have not seen a CNG filling station ever. The leader in CNG vehicles in the country is Delhi and According to Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL), the state-owned automotive and domestic gas retailer, out of 527 CNG stations in India
in 2009-10, Delhi had 188, admittedly a small number for the country as well as the city.
However, the future for a country like India which import most of its oil is definitely natural gas. Every day, we consume 70% of our oil getting from place to place—and produce more than 30% of our greenhouse gases along the way. If we could run our vehicles on natural gas, it could kill two birds with one stone: Not only is natural gas a lot cheaper than oil right now, but its emissions are much cleaner than gasoline or diesel, as per the Indian Economy blog.
Although a court directive may not be enough, with the right policy incentives, it is possible that natural-gas vehicles could increase the nation's energy security and decrease the susceptibility for our economy to recessions caused by oil-price shocks, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and other pollutants."
The other way to look at is to decrease dependance on private transportation of all kinds, at least in urban settings and create a demand and then meet the demand for increased public transportation. Take the case of Delhi. Though public transportation has expanded, the number of vehicles in Delhi is increasing at an alarming rate - from 540,000 in 1981 to 5.1 million by 2000. Delhi has more motor vehicles than Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai combined.
Today, Indian cities are growing so fast that good roads and infrastructure can only take one so far, as per the Indian Economy blog. Major changes to city infrastructure take at least a year or so and during that time traffic would have grown by such a massive percentage that that particular piece of infrastructure would be quickly rendered obsolete.
And yet, people are not closed to public transport in Delhi. On August 1, The Delhi Metro achieved a milestone on Wednesday, when close to 2.2 million people travelled on it on the eve of Raksha Bandhan
, despite the fact that with in the previous week, on two occasions, passengers were stranded in their coaches when the power collapsed. There are instances like that of Singapore, where there is an extremely high tax on the purchase of any car and the law states that the government will confiscate the car once it has completed around ten years on the road. At the same time, public transportation in Singapore is extremely good. The consumers are discouraged to buy cars and encouraged to use an extremely hi-tech public transport system, thus reducing traffic congestion on the roads.
This model may not work in most Indian cities but similar models and plans ought to be developed and implemented. This is not very easy of course and there is no guarantee that any of these models might work. But even so, the govt must stop resorting to half-baked, solutions and resort to proper detailed planning if any solution is to evolve.