By Purna N. Ranjitkar l
Price of fossil fuels is going up at the global level these days. Records say that it has touched the level of price in 2008. Price rise has hit to Nepal also. Now the price of petro per liter is Rs 150 and diesel costs Rs 133 per liter. The price is expected hardly to come down soon. The reason of price hike is related to Ukraine crisis that made low supply of fossil fuels from Russia to other countries.
Nepal imports all fossil fuels from other countries. Nepal Oil Corporation is the solo authority to buys fossil fuels from Indian Oil Corporation which is facing financial problems too.
Recently Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation had said that fossil fuel price is going up. So, Nepal has to go electric drive with priority and cooking in electricity as well to avoid fossil fuel as much as possible.
That is an encouraging statement that the Government of Nepal is showing its concern over the price and negative impacts of fossil fuels. Moreover, Government of Nepal has been soft to electric vehicles promotion and the commitments to global campaigns to support cut the climate change effects.
The promotion of electric vehicles in Nepal is growing since the budget of the current fiscal year (2021-22) has been made similar to the tax rule provided by the budget of the fiscal year 2016,-2017. The rule was changed by the budget of fiscal year 2020-21 by raising the tax rate similar as importing fossil fuel run vehicles.
By this time electric vehicles for private and institution usage are available in good price in Nepal market with a variety of choices.
However, electric vehicle for public transportation and conversion of Internal Combustion Engine(ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EV) have not been taken up seriously by the Government.
In context of fossil fuel price hike and alternatives to consider, the Government of Nepal may be suggested to bring out the rules for conversion without delay. Once the conversion is allowed thousands of small car owners of 10 to 15 years old vehicles would prefer to convert their vehicles to make electric drive. The activities may be called the first phase.
The conversion technology is not a big technical intervention these days. Simply speaking, an electric vehicle conversion is the modification of a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle to electric propulsion, creating an all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The conversion of small vehicles has been a popular activity in some countries. The technology available and the materials available in certain markets made conversion is possible to medium and even big category of fossil fuel vehicles to convert to electric drive.
This is also to mention that expertise for conversion in Nepal is ready to provide necessary services as they had successfully converted a few vehicles recently. People bearing knowledge on conversions say that even bigger vehicles including buses can be converted in Nepal.
The conversion of ICE vehicles in the past was also successful. The conversion done by Bhairaja Sthapit in 1992 was a milestone to this context. Later, a few others also carried out successfully. But, enthusiastic people could do not do more than experiments due to legal limitations. Thus, Government should consider seriously on allowing ICEVs to convert to EVs.
On the other hand, the Government of Nepal has to consider on make cost of conversion cheaper. That is possible by lowering the tax rate on importing of components for conversion mainly battery, motor, and charger.
People who realize need of conversion for better future means of transportation are looking for the Government to create conducive environment to this effect by formulating legal provisions as per the spirit of Environment Friendly Vehicles and Transport Policy 2071 that formulated in 2014 AD. Thus, the needful legal provisions may be instrument in sketching the future of fossil fuel vehicles to turn into electric drive which will bring multiple benefits to the country.
The Government, in the past, had formulated policy to promote electric transportation and environment friendly systems. But, the lack of acts and regulations that the Government has to prepare promotion of EVs could not have been a campaign. Now the governments at all three levels have to be serious on pros and cons of fossil vehicles and on EVs to promote at the earliest so as import of fossil fuel could be reduced and control of air pollution will also take a desired speed.