24 March 2016 Current Affairs: The department of heavy industry has granted in-principle approval to Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to introduce zero-emission retrofitted electric buses under its flagship scheme FAME India (faster adoption and manufacturing of hybrid & electric vehicles in India).According to sources in the know, HRTC and MMRDA will roll out 25 electric buses each. Under FAME India, the department will fund up to 75 per cent cost of the buses.A senior official in the department said pilot projects worth Rs 100 crore were in–principle approval and Rs 75 crore would be disbursed soon under the scheme.Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, had mentioned in his Budget speech that Himachal Pradesh would be the first state in India to introduce zero-emission electric buses. The chief minister also announced exemption from token tax, registration charges and value-added tax on all electric vehicles for five years to promote eco-friendly transport services in the state.The flagship scheme was announced in April 2015 with a total capital outlay of Rs 795 crore in the first two financial years starting with the current year. With this, the government hopes to save Rs 60,000 crore annually on the country’s oil import bill by 2020.According to Geete, business interest is on the rise with Rs 15 crore worth of proposals pouring into the ministry every month.Critics, however, say that in the major metros where the scheme has already been launched Delhi National Capital Region, Greater Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad here is no infrastructure for smooth adoption of such vehicles.
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