Maharashtra to go with EVs for Ajanta Ellora Cave visits

Highlights :

  • EV for Ajanta and Ellora caves is first such step in Maharashtra
  • The caves have been shut for a long time due to the non-availability of electricity
Maharashtra to go with EVs for Ajanta Ellora Cave visits EV's for Ajanta Ellora caves

The Maharashtra government has set plans to leverage electric vehicles (EVs) to transport tourists to the world heritage sites in the state. Maharashtra state tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray announced government plans to deploy EV for facilitating state tourism to the world-famous UNESCO world heritage sites Ajanta and Ellora caves. Until their closure due to covid, visitors to these caves in any case used to be ferried by buses, after parking vehicles some distance away. To cut down on the impact of pollution.

The statement followed a recent visit of the Minister to the aforementioned sites. Notably, Ajanta and Ellora tourist centers have been shut for a long time due to the non-availability of electricity. Further, he added that relevant centers will be started here so that scholars can come and study the historical region.

Earlier, a senior official of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) also informed about the plans to introduce a fleet of 20 battery-operated vehicles for tourists at Ellora caves.

“There will be 20 battery-operated vehicles in the premises to ferry visitors throughout the day. We have also proposed five temporary sheds for tourists at various locations which will also serve as the stops for these vehicles,” said Milan Kumar Chauley, ASI Superintendent, Aurangabad circle.

The move of EV mobility solutions for Ajanta and Ellora caves marks the beginning of forthcoming wider adaptation of the sector by the state government.

As part of its EV policy, the state government also has a target to convert 15% of MSRTC existing bus fleet into electric vehicles. The policy hopes for the EVs to make up at least 10% of total vehicle registrations in the state by 2025. For electric two-wheelers, the policy offers subsidies to the first 1,00,000 EVs on a first-come-first-serve basis.

EV for World Heritage sites

While it may be a novel concept for the state of Maharashtra to introduce EV for UNESCO World Heritage sites, EV has already been under consideration for such important places across the globe. The most recent example is Saudi Arabia’s EV model for AlUla, Saudi’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has recently launched an autonomous pod vehicle service to ferry between AlUla and the south car park. It will be accessible to both residents and visitors, providing a quick and easy link to Al-Ula’s Old Town. RCU’s long-term plans include making autonomous pods available to residents and visitors to AlUla via an Uber-style service.

Italy’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan of L’Aquila is another such scheme. It is a long-term plan to promote sustainable urban transportation, reduce emissions and pollution, and enhance liveability in the historic city. While L’Aquila is not in the World Heritage List, it is home to the Celestinian forgiveness celebration, inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Significance of EV

The corrosion and soiling as a result of air pollution can lead to severe economic losses at such sites. UNESCO World Heritage sites are of outstanding universal value and therefore highly frequented by tourists. Damage to these sites caused by dirty air hence entail high maintenance and restoration costs. Moreover, they also degrade the original remains of the heritage sites.

While still in its infancy, electric mobility is getting attention for environment-friendly, sustainable alternatives to existing transportation services around such sites.

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.