The demand for transportation in Rajkot has increased significantly as a result of expansion of infrastructure and population growth. As public bus services often fall short in meeting this demand, commuters tend to rely on alternative modes like autorickshaws for first and last-mile connectivity, to bridge the gaps in the existing public transport services.
In order to improve its public transportation, Rajkot is aiming for increased use of electric vehicles (EV). The city started the process of converting 100 operational buses to electric buses in 2021, and already has 48 e-buses. By 2024, it will have 150 e-buses to replace all existing diesel buses. However, there are no electric autos to provide first- and last-mile connectivity in the city, even though the central government via the FAME II programme, and the state government through the Gujarat State Electric Vehicle Policy 2021, are offering incentives for the purchase of EVs.
In this context, the CapaCITIES project team held a consultation with various stakeholders, in the presence of Shri Anil Dhamelia, Deputy Commissioner, Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC), to learn about the reasons for the poor adoption of e-autos. The RMC and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) are implementing the CapaCITIES project in the city to advance climate-resilient action. Under the project, there is a significant focus on the greening of the transport sector because, as per the GHG emission inventory of FY 2020-21, the sector contributes 21% of the total GHG emissions in the city. The discussion with the stakeholders revealed that issues in the availability of vehicle information, support for loan application and payment of the high margin amount after receiving a loan were the barriers, as most of the auto operators are from economically weaker sections and dependent on their daily earnings.
As a result, the RMC has decided to launch Rajkot Green Mobility Programme under the CapaCITIES project to collaborate with all stakeholders to build a positive environment and offer a single point of contact for those interested in purchasing e-autos. The programme also offers gap funding of INR 30,000 for making the initial payment.
The programme also seeks to provide an enabling environment through the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) team, which, with support from the CapaCITIES project, will provide information about the Rajkot Green Mobility Programme, including a list of approved e-auto variants and their dealers. Interested individuals will also be supported in applying for a bank loan after deciding on the EVs of their choice. Apart from the approved loan amount, the buyer will be required to pay the remaining money to the dealer as a margin amount, in exchange for which the dealer will offer a discount of Rs. 30,000. The CapaCITIES project will compensate the e-auto dealer for the discount they provide to interested individuals.
To avail the benefits of the Rajkot Green Mobility Programme, the individual has to select a vehicle that is of L5 category (three-wheeled motor vehicle with maximum speed exceeding 25kmph), with a seating capacity of ‘driver and three passengers’; has a lithium-ion battery; has a certified operating range of more than 100 km on a full battery charge; and has approval from the Automotive Research Association of India and other required fitness certificates.
Throughout this process, the buyers will receive the necessary guidance from the NULM and CapaCITIES teams, including information about benefits/subsidies available under other schemes of the Gujarat government, such as the Shri Vajpayee Bankable Yojana of District Industries Centre or the Gujarat Electric Vehicle Policy.