NITI Aayog at the forefront of Centre's move to promote electric vehicles

The Centre’s primary think tank NITI Aayog has been at the receiving end, mostly on issues linked to electric vehicles (EVs), over the last few days.  

If Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday that it was the mandate of his ministry and not that of NITI Aayog to take a call on vehicle technology, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier stated that the government viewpoint did not always match that of the think tank. 

Gadkari was addressing industry concern at a conference over Niti Aayog’s tough stance regarding stopping registration of vehicle using Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to promote the use of EVs.

NITI Aayog has been at the forefront of the Centre’s move to promote EVs to cut down on pollution.

In fact, at a recent meeting with top automakers, senior Aayog members took a tough stand on fixing a timeframe for rollout of EVs for two-wheelers and four wheelers. 

They also laid out the options that the government could take to ensure that sales of vehicles based in ICE engines could be lowered. That had triggered a chain of reactions from major automakers.

In the case of Goyal, he said at a recent global seminar that NITI Aayog as an independent think tank comes up with new solutions constantly and that its view may not match that of the government all the time and on all issues unless there was a policy announcement. 

He was speaking soon after the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) had blamed Niti Aaayog for killing jobs in the context of its EV push.

Sometime back, NITI Aayog was also caught in cross-currents with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology over who would take ownership of a government proposed artificial intelligence centre in India.

NITI Aayog had circulated a Cabinet note, asking for Rs 7,500 crore for three years to set up an AI framework. 

MeitY’s plan estimated an expenditure of Rs 470-480 crore. 

Last year, four panels set up by MeitY had evaluated the use of AI for citizens, such as setting up a data platform, skilling and reskilling, research and development. 

It also concerned itself with examining the challenges involving legal, regulatory, ethical and cybersecurity aspects. MeitY’s reports have not been made public.

New age technologies like AI fall under the purview of the MeitY but NITI Aayog has spearheaded several discussions on the subject. 

Analysts pointed out that any independent think tank is meant to hold opinions on various matters, which could be at variance with government’s stand. 

In the case of EV though, the matter has been settled for now as the government has clarified that no deadline has been set for a shift to the new technology.

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