Since the government has adopted a much-needed policy of promoting electric vehicles (EVs) to control the ever increasing air pollution, more vehicle users now seem to have been attracted towards such vehicles. With the government’s announcement to provide a tax rebate on the purchase of electric vehicles, Nepal has recorded a substantial rise in the demand for EVs of different brands in recent months. The history of operation of EVs in the country, however, had begun with the launch of an electric trolley bus service in the mid-1970s. About two decades later, three-wheeler Safa tempos were introduced in the Kathmandu Valley to replace the smoke emitting diesel-run tempos. Environmentalists had to lobby hard for the introduction of such eco-friendly vehicles as it was not easy for them to take the policy makers and transport entrepreneurs into confidence.
Even today, the government has failed to implement its policy of phasing out the vehicles that have been in operation for more than 20 years. These vehicles have been responsible, to a great extent, for increasing the level of air pollution in the urban centres like Kathmandu. As different kinds of pollutants are degrading health worthiness of air, water and land, and climate change-induced disasters have continued to take a toll on all the living beings across the world, more people have now become quite concerned about such problems. With the development of environment friendly technologies, people’s lifestyles are also changing gradually. In Nepal too, there has been a sea change in people’s perception towards electric vehicles as the latter are more eco-friendly than the ones running on fossil fuels. The government’s new vehicular policy has led to a remarkable reduction in prices of EVs, too. This has inspired them to opt for such vehicles.
Charging EVs was a major issue until some years in the past as there were no charging stations. Frequent power outage was another problem for the EV users. The reason for this was the demand for electricity was much higher in proportion to power generation within the country. With several new hydroelectricity projects coming into operation, the country is now generating surplus power. In compliance with the government’s policy, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is encouraging consumers to use more electricity for lighting, cooking and other purposes. It has also come up with a fresh scheme to inspire consumers to use electricity for charging their EVs. For this, the NEA has introduced the Electricity Distribution Bylaws, 2078 B.S. As per this rule, those using EVs can now charge the vehicles with the installation of a separate metre with higher capacity within their home compound. This is a welcome move.
In addition, the NEA is working to operate 50 charging stations in Nepal within a couple of months. This project will encourage the use of EVs. The country plans to boost sales of electric vehicles, including cars and two-wheelers, to 25 per cent by 2025. This may lessen air pollution. With the implementation of this bylaw, consumers are expected to receive electricity services swiftly, easily and at a cheaper rate. This will help increase power consumption in the country. It could decrease the import of petrol, diesel and cooking gas, which may in turn contribute to reducing the country’s trade deficit as well.