New Delhi: In a big push to the usage of electric vehicles in the country, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has set a target to install charging stations every 40 to 60 kilometres on national highways, Road Secretary Giridhar Aramane told ThePrint in an interview.
Aramane, also the NHAI chairman, added that the authority is planning to cover 35,000-40,000 km of national highways with charging stations by 2023. In all, 700 charging stations will come up over the next two years.
“Whoever is travelling on national highways in an electric vehicle will not suffer if the vehicle breaks down,” Aramane said.
The charging stations will be part of wayside amenities to be developed by private concessionaires along greenfield expressways as well as existing highways that are being expanded.
“We amended the concession agreement for the wayside amenities to include electric vehicle charging facilities also. Besides, there will be a restaurant, toilets, drivers’ resting rooms, and petrol and diesel dispensing machines etc,” Aramane said.
So far, the NHAI has invited bids for setting up 100 such wayside amenities, which will include EV charging stations too.
“We have bid out 100 wayside amenities and got a tremendous response. Each wayside amenity has received at least six-seven bids. Once the bids are awarded, (the work) will take six months to complete,” the IAS officer said.
“The plan is to bid out 700 wayside amenities that have charging stations by next two years. Eventually, we want to cover the entire national highway network,” he added.
The size of the plots for setting up the wayside amenities will vary between two and four hectares. While four-lane roads and highways will have a two-hectare parcel of land, for greenfield projects like the Delhi-Mumbai expressway, more land will be available.
“Where land is available, bigger plots will be taken up. We are making the entire plot available to the concessionaire,” Aramane said.
The NHAI has set up a special purpose vehicle, National Highways Logistics Management Ltd, for the implementation of wayside amenities, besides other projects such as Multi-Modal Logistic Parks and port connectivity roads.
Why EVs need infra push
The demand for electric vehicles in India has been on the rise, but lack of enough charging infrastructure has proven to be a dampener.
In a written reply to Parliament in March, Arjun Ram Meghwal, then-minister of state for heavy industries, had said that 69,012 units of registered electric vehicles were sold in 2017-18. The number increased to 1,43,358 units in 2018-19 and 1,67,041 in 2019-20.
The government has come up with a host of measures to promote the usage of electric vehicles. It launched Phase II of the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) scheme with a Rs 10,000-crore outlay in April 2019, seeking to support electrification of public and shared transportation, and to provide subsidies for 7,000 electric buses, 5 lakh three-wheelers, 55,000 four-wheeler passenger cars and 10 lakh two-wheelers.
The government earlier brought down GST rates on electric vehicles from 12 to 5.5 per cent.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)