To combat the increasing pollution caused by automobile emissions, the West Bengal government has made a significant decision to exclusively utilize electric vehicles for all administrative purposes.
This includes even rented vehicles, which must also be electric, as specified in a notification issued by the state Transport Department. The department has estimated the associated costs.
For the first 100 kilometers, the state government will cover a monthly expenditure of Rs 46,000 as rent to the private agencies providing the hired cars. Beyond 100 kilometers, an additional charge of Rs 8 per extra kilometer will apply.
The notification also allows for the hiring of petrol or diesel vehicles in emergencies, but prior approval from the state Finance Department is mandatory for such cases.
A senior Finance Department official acknowledged that transitioning to this new system would indeed incur additional costs and put pressure on the state’s finances.
Nevertheless, this move is deemed necessary to combat the escalating air pollution stemming from automobile fuel emissions, particularly those from diesel vehicles. Environmental activists in the state have welcomed the decision, viewing it as a positive step in addressing the issue.
However, associations of private transport owners express concerns about the initiative’s long-term success, highlighting the need for a proper infrastructure to support electric vehicles.