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ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: A BOON OR BAN FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES?

INTRODUCTION

India is now scaling towards high advancement where there is a gradual shift towards good technology use. One of the innovations has also led to the creation of Electric vehicles in India. With a rise in the amount of pollution in India, the government felt its need where people may able to drive these EVs and no harm could damage the environment. As per Section 3(1) of The Environmental Protection Act, 1986, the power has been allotted to the government for the adoption of measures that could work to safeguard the environment. Therefore, the centre introduced its “Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles” i.e. FAME scheme which aims to boost the network of these EVs among the people of India. This scheme is supposed to promote the circulation of the EVs to manufacturers as well as consumers by providing various financial incentives with the infrastructure building including the charging ports. The role of environmental legislation also proved to be vital in governing the prevalence of Electric Vehicles. This blog aims to provide what importance environmental regulations hold for EVs in India.

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: A MEDIUM TO ACCELERATE SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY THROUGH ELECTRIC VEHICLE
  • Feasibility: EVs are found to be more convenient and less prone to environmental degradation than Gasoline Vehicles. These vehicles do not consume any exhaustible resource such as fossil fuel like the gasoline vehicles do includes. EVs are only used to operate through their batteries which need to get a frequent charge. This depicts that EVs are deemed to be fit for every person as their maintenance does not contain large expenses.
  • Less Pollutant: Gasoline vehicles are proven to be quite pollutive to the environment in terms of noise, air, etc. The Incomplete Combustion process in the engine produces the waste products like Carbon monoxide in these vehicles. EVs on the other side, are less prone to cause any sort of pollution. These vehicles do not include the burning of fossil fuel to form dangerous gases but the use of in-built batteries. Even electric vehicles also remain unsuccessful to produce the unnecessary sound of the engine. This denotes their inability to cause noise pollution.
  • Emission Standards: According to Section 20 of The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the emission standards have been prescribed under the act expressed by the state board for motor vehicles. This stringent limit of the emission standards for gasoline vehicles are indirectly creating the demand for EVs in India. The Bharat Emission Standards identical to euro-norms are used to set the emission limits of different automobiles in India. If the manufacturing companies are not complying with the Bharat Emission Standards then they fail to get eligible for the open market sale.
  • Financial Incentives: The government of India used to provide subsidies for the sake of the diversified reach of electric vehicles in India. This also strengthens the belief of the public in EVs as the government is introducing certain techniques to magnify their urge. Though electric vehicles are so much protective for visitors, still certain insurance companies favour providing insurance if they got damaged somewhere.
  • A framework has been set for sustainable mobility through Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It is the mechanism for evaluating the forecasting impact of upcoming projects or initiatives drawn to the environment. Electric vehicles through EIA are building their circulation in India. This sets the trust in the minds of people and promotes their validity as the impact has been regularly detected through the EIA process.
UNFOLDING THE CHALLENGES AND WAY FORWARD FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES CONCERNING ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS
  • Scarcity of Charging Infrastructures: In India, the charging ports for EVs are not huge in numbers. Building multiple charging infrastructures can badly impact the government budget. But, the good amount of charging infrastructures for EVs may motivate people to buy them. The sudden hike in the sale of EVs in India may pressurize the manufacturing companies to further increase their scale of production for lithium-ion batteries. The production of such batteries involves the use of certain exhaustible resources leading to environmental degradation. This does not deem to be fit as per the sustainable measures enshrined in the environmental law.
  • Battery Composition: As per Section 2(b) of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, environment pollutants comprise a solid, liquid, or gaseous substance which marked as hazardous to the environment. The production of EV batteries includes the burning of fossil fuels which produce Nitrogen oxides to increase the frequency of acid rain and smog in the environment. The batteries of the EVs in their overuse can also even blast due to overheating as these batteries are used to contain extensive energy in a small surface area. Hence, this would lead to an internal Short-circuit within the battery.
  • Battery Recycling: The disposal of electric vehicle batteries has been a trending hurdle for India. The battery contains various hazardous and catastrophic elements in it which may largely infect living organisms through mental disorders. Therefore, the government introduced the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 in which the Lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles is also indulged. These rules empower the existence of separate industries for the recycling process of waste batteries. This shows that the government also needed to adopt the framework in reaction to the bulky battery disposal.
  • Consistent expenses: The battery attached to EVs are not completely proficient in their internal functioning. Thus, there is a possibility that they can anytime create hindrances during the travelling of the visitors. Viewing the same situation, people may feel discomfort in buying these electric vehicles. In contrast, it would result in high counts of gasoline vehicle purchases and could create a giant challenge for all Environmental statutes currently prevailing in India. 

CONCLUSION

The scope of EVs in India has been diversifying in these modern days. The perpetual upliftment in EV adoption is resulting in safeguarding the environment from several pollutions and other severe effects. Numerous awareness camps and training programs are gradually reflecting the public importance of the environment. People are becoming more curious about the conservation of the environment. This is resulting in maximizing the capacity of Electric vehicles in India. Likewise, environmental law also holds an immense role in promoting EVs in India and making them an integral element of the automobile industry. But there are still major reforms that the EV manufacturing units require to consider in terms of waste management and certain other legal frameworks.  The further development of these electric vehicles will increase its sale and reach in India. It can also catch various entrepreneurs’ attention and inspiration to make their startups into EVs.

Author(s) Name: Aniruddh Atul Garg (GLA University, Mathura)