The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Department of Heavy Industries, Government of India, to consider including hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure within the ambit of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) in India Phase II scheme while disposing of public interest litigation (PIL).
The Court also directed the government to consider allocating unutilised funds from the FAME India Phase II scheme towards promoting and incentivizing demand for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles’ construction and operation of hydrogen refuelling stations.
The PIL stated that the FAME India Scheme aims at encouraging domestic manufacture of electric vehicles and to promote and create a market for electric vehicles in India. It added that the primary objective of the FAME scheme is to reduce the dependence on petroleum resources, counter the impact of internal combustion engine vehicles on the environment, and keep pace with the gradual shift of the automobile industry towards alternate fuels including electric vehicles.
The PIL also said that FAME scheme has not been able to adequately utilise its budget towards the adoption of electric vehicles and, for example, out of a total budget of INR 700 crores for setting up charging infrastructure only INR 20 crores have been disbursed in the period from 2019 up to February 10, 2021.
The petitioner had sought the court’s direction to the government to allocate a part of the unutilised funds from the FAME India Phase II Scheme for promoting and incentivizing demand for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and construction and operation of hydrogen refuelling stations.
During arguments, it was also brought to the notice of the Court that production of green hydrogen, using electrolysis of water, also generated 99% pure oxygen which would ensure that India never fell short of any oxygen supply in future. “The world is looking towards hydrogen as an important piece of the decarbonisation puzzle. India is very well placed to tap this opportunity and develop as a global leader in hydrogen with massive solar & wind capacities to support such a clean energy future,” Ashwini Kumar said.
In the fight to reduce the dependence of India’s transport sector on imported oil and gas, it is paramount that the government supports and incentivises alternative fuel technologies such as hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles which can be effectively used in both long-distance heavy transport and for passenger vehicles.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM) during his speech in December 2020, and the Finance Minister during her budget speech in February 2021 also mentioned NHEM.