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Indian Army’s 5-day key meet to set road map for EVs’ induction

Indian Army’s 5-day key meet to set road map for EVs’ induction
Indian Army launches Electric Vehicles in New Delhi to combat pollution (PIB Image)

New Delhi:
The 12-lakh strong Indian Army now plans to go green wherever operationally possible. The force is fine-tuning a roadmap for the phased induction of a `limited number’ of electric vehicles in `peace stations’ across the country in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. 

“Introduction of e-vehicles” will be discussed during the General M M Naravane-chaired Army commanders’ conference from April 18 to 22, in addition to the operational situation, infrastructure build-up and capability development along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the backdrop of the almost two-year-long military confrontation in eastern Ladakh. 

The tactical military lessons learnt from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as the impact of sanctions on Russian-origin military hardware held by the Army will also be focus areas during the conference, as was reported by TOI last week. 

On the e-vehicles front, the Army has conducted a study on induction of such vehicles, beginning with headquarters in peace stations, in keeping with the government drive to encourage e-vehicles to reduce fossil fuel consumption and decrease air pollution. 

The induction of e-vehicles, of course, will be carefully evaluated for practicality due to the diverse and challenging terrains and extreme weather conditions in which the Army operates, especially along the long unresolved borders with China and Pakistan. 

Apart from the frontiers, the Army is deployed in 62 cantonments and 237 military stations across the country, which of course are much greener and well-maintained than civilian areas, and operates a huge fleet of transport and fighting vehicles. 

“The major challenges with e-vehicles will be the distance range on full charge, availability of charging infrastructure, recharge time and extra cost as compared to contemporary vehicles based on fossil fuels,” a senior officer said. 

“Consequently, their large-scale induction especially in operational areas will not be feasible in the current scenario. Nevertheless, a phased induction of limited quantities of e-vehicles in peace stations after setting up logistics support infrastructure is feasible,” he added. 

There is, of course, the global debate on whether e-vehicles actually reduce carbon emissions because they run on electricity, which in countries like India is still largely produced from fossil fuels like coal. But with an eye on the future, the Army is keen to make a beginning. 

Towards this end, the Army Welfare Transport Society has already inducted over 15 e-vehicles, including 10 on lease from the public sector Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) for transportation of personnel at Delhi. 

“There is encouraging feedback on their use. The Army plans to maintain at least 25% e-vehicles in the AWT Society at Delhi in the future. Incidentally, around 40% of the light vehicle fleet of the transport unit of the Army headquarters is already of the hybrid electric vehicle category,” another officer said.

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