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Delhi’s e-buses could help reduce pollution

Electric buses parked at IP Extention bus depot prior to the flagging off ceremony. (Image via Twitter)

A fleet of 150 bright blue or green and white coloured buses, with ‘Zero Emissions’ pasted on the sides, are regularly being seen on the roads of the national capital, Delhi. As reported by Mongabay-India, these are Delhi’s electric buses, launched in May this year.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had then stated that 150 more electric buses will be added by next month and the national capital will boast of 2000 new e-buses and 600-700 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses by next year. The city government had also started the #IrideEbus campaign to promote maximum adoption of electric buses by the people of Delhi.

The Delhi government then announced 80% electrification of its buses in the next three years while it plans to have a total of 8000 e-buses by 2025. According to the report, 50 more e-buses are likely to come on to the road in the next few months while tenders for 4000 additional e-buses are also going to be floated soon.

As the Mongabay-India report notes, CNG buses are known to release polluting gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides besides particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and ultrafine particles. E-buses, on the other hand, have zero emissions when they are in operation as they run on batteries which are charged by electricity.

The report highlights a recent study by researchers at the Kyushu University in Japan, the complete electrification of the public transport system in Delhi, with battery-operated electric buses, can have several “co-benefits” besides combating air pollution. This is due to its virtue of being a zero-emission transportation alternative.

Experts have said that the transition from CNG to electric has several health benefits and economy of the state but it has challenges too. They, however, added that the loss of productive time on charging and deterioration of batteries over time continue to affect the potential benefits of electrification of public transport of the national capital.

The study, published on September 1 this year and titled ‘Quantifying the multiple environmental, health and economic benefits from the electrification of Delhi public transport bus fleet’, estimating a district-wise near roadway avoided PM2.5 exposure, was published in the Journal of Environmental Management. The study developed an integrated quantitative assessment framework to examine the benefits from the increased penetration of electrification of the public buses in Delhi. It estimated the benefits of e-buses in a scenario where all the existing public buses in Delhi are replaced by new electric buses. The study claimed that in such a scenario, 74.67% of the total pollutant emissions from the existing bus fleet in Delhi could be reduced. It also pointed out that besides the reduction of emissions, the transition from CNG-based to electricity-based buses could have several other ‘co-benefits’ such as increased energy efficiency, improved air quality and better public health.

Researchers of the study told Mongabay-India that this transition can help in significant reduction of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 emissions up to 44 tonnes per year which helps avoid about 1370 deaths due to air pollution and a reduction in approximately 2808 respiratory disease-related hospital admissions per year. This, the researchers claimed, can help in saving about $383 million that is borne by the government and citizens because of expected reduced mortality and morbidity.

Another Mongabay-India report had pointed out that after a

 lull due to the pandemic, sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in Delhi have surged and continue to rise. In 2022, breaking all previous records, the union territory reported a total of 25,890 sales of EVs in the first six months itself. This was the highest ever recorded, crossing annual sale numbers in previous years as well. Delhi currently has 573 charging stations which give their services anywhere between Rs 10/unit-Rs 15/unit.

The government recently started working towards 100 public charging stations where charging facilities could be available at as low as Rs 2/unit. E-rickshaw, e-autos and other last mile connectivity public transport systems in Delhi are largely dependent on the charging-cum-parking stations to charge their vehicles at higher prices.

Many still use illegal, unauthorized power connections leading to losses. The report says that the Delhi government with its electric vehicle policy has planned to ensure 25% of the vehicle registrations from the electric vehicle segment alone by 2024 while it has asked all cab aggregators and delivery services to ensure 100% of their new fleet to be electric only by 2030 with its new draft aggregator policy.





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