Officials explain lack of EV charging stations outside Bengaluru


Karnataka recently took pride in the fact that it has the highest number of public Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations (5,059) in India. While Bengaluru Urban district has 4,281 and Bengaluru Rural district has 192 EV charging stations, no other district has even crossed the 100-mark. 

Bengaluru is followed by Dakshina Kannada (73), Mysuru (57) and Belagavi (50) in terms of highest number of EV charging stations. In fact, in many districts, the number is in single digits.

Officials from Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), which is the nodal agency for EV adaptation in Karnataka, attributed the low numbers in the districts to the lack of penetration of EVs in rural areas. 

Lack of awareness about EVs outside Bengaluru

“People in Bengaluru are more aware of EVs. The city has EV showrooms compared to other districts. Most importantly, more people in Bengaluru can afford an EV, which costs more than an ICE vehicle,” Mathapathi M. A., Deputy General Manager, EV, Smart Grid and EV Cell told The Hindu.  

Those from other parts of Karnataka agree that not much has been done from the government’s end to create awareness about the benefits of EV usage. While only 265 stations out of over 5,000 have been set up with capex by various escoms, 195 of them are in the jurisdiction of Bescom. Mangaluru escom (Mescom) has set up 57 stations, Hukkeri escom (Hescom) has set up 12 stations, and Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Company (CESC) has set up one station, and Gulbarga escom (Gescom) has not set up any. 

“EV sellers should write to the local escoms asking them to set up charging stations. Currently, only tech-savvy people are using EVs in some places outside Bengaluru, like north Karnataka. There is not much publicity, but we are hopeful that the market will gradually expand. Bescom should bring in EV sellers, and organise seminars in other regions of the State to create awareness about EVs,” said K. C. Nayakawadi, former managing director, Gescom. 

Private players not updating on EV Yatra portal  

Mr. Mathapathi said that with private companies being the major players in installation of charging stations, many of them often do not submit their data to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s (BEE) EV Yatra portal, which can be another cause for awareness about stations in other districts. 

“For instance, in January 2024, the number of stations in Karnataka on that portal was only 1,059. Then, we started collecting data from all the stakeholders, which took the number up to 5,700. That’s how we landed in first place,” Mr. Mathapathi said.

Bescom is in the process of collecting data about private charging stations from nodal officers in different districts.  

Roadmap for increasing EV infrastructure in Karnataka

Among many plans Bescom has for increasing EV penetration and charging stations across the State is a proposal to set up charging stations alongside highways.

“We have done a joint survey with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) along the Bengaluru-Belagavi highway. We identified opportunities for 20 EV charging stations with 40 chargers at a cost of ₹12 crore. We are in talks for a joint survey with the State Highway authorities to set up EV charging stations at a cost of ₹15 crore,” Mr. Mathapathi said. 

The recent budget had an announcement that 2,500 new EV charging stations would be set up across Karnataka. A Bescom official said that the tender process is already underway to set up 585 charging stations across nine districts. A proposal is in place to call bids for setting up another 605 charging stations across 22 other districts.  

He informed that the Transport Department has earmarked ₹360 crore to set up EV charging stations in 11 Regional Transport Offices (RTO) across Karnataka, for which bidding is in progress.

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