Some questions need to be answered
By Purna N. Ranjitkar
Through a Gazette circulation, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Government of Nepal issued a circular saying modification of vehicles with environmental benefits and energy efficiency point of views is allowed. The circulation was published last week.
In the current scenario, fossil fuel price has been hiked globally while country like Nepal has to reconsider on alternative to fossil fuels. As such, the immediate available technology is replace or reduce is electric drive. Thus, maximum use of electricity from transportation has been a must.
The circulation states that part of Vehicle and Transportation Management Act 2049 Article 39 has been opened while this clause prohibits conversion interior and or exterior of a vehicle originally made. The opening of the prohibited clause will remain effective for 3 years period.
Moreover, Article 39 (I) states that vehicles in operation shall not be altered without proper permission. Colours, structure, engine, or chassis changes can only be done after taking the approval of the concerned authority.
Similarly, Article 39 (II) states that the authority shall make all the necessary inquiries into the matter before giving the approval. After getting the approval, there was a provision to charge an additional 50% of the motor vehicle registration as a chargeable fee.
That means, one can now convert fossil fuel driven vehicles to eco-friendly alternatives such as electric drive. Appropriate permission is required to do so. Extra charges for this process have been waived. Thus, the overall process has been made simpler.
Environment activists and EV campaigners have been advocating and meeting with authorities at concerned government offices for this to make happen by formulating Acts to enable conversion of fossil fuel driven vehicles to electric drive since a long time.
Environment Friendly Vehicles and Transportation Policy, 2071 formulated by Nepal Government in 2014 had clearly mentioned that legal provisions for conversion would be prepared within a year. The process is still going on. The concerned authorities had informed some 3 months ago that the task may be accomplished within a year from when they mentioned.
Conversion of fossil fuel driven vehicles to electric drive were done first in Nepal was 31 years ago. 2 units of Vikram Tempo, the smoke belching three wheelers were also converted for experiment in 1993. Some others were also converted and driven in the city roads to some extent. But none of them were permitted by government authorities. Enthusiasts were always turned down saying that that move is illegal.
This is also to note that Government of Bagmati Province had made a legal provision for conversion of vehicles which is much impracticable as it allows convert only those which are not older than 7 years. Obviously, users will not like to convert such a new vehicle.
The recent allowing conversion of vehicles in given condition is not according formulation of legal provisions to implement Environment Friendly Vehicles and Transportation Policy, 2071. As such, this is to understand thatthe real solution is still in a wait.
Moreover, the legal provision related to the recent open up of the restriction is not speaking on the effectiveness of the legal provision of Government of Bagmati Province. How far that will remain active or naturally turned passive.
Government of Nepal has a comfortable tax provisions on electric vehicles will that be applicable to converted EVs too ?or not is another question to be answered.
Opening of the restriction for conversion is a timely move. That will bring a lot of people to attract to convert their ICE vehicle to drive by electricity. However, conversion is still a costly business in terms of price of components. That could be user friendly, if Nepal Government waived taxes on importing of components for conversion.
The authority to allow conversion required to have been given sufficient knowledge and guidelines so as service seekers can get permission without hassles at the government offices mainly. Thus, an appropriate procedure has been an urgent to allow conversion at a greater extent. Therefore the government sector needs to act without delay.