BHEL plans to make lithium-ion batteries in India

Anant-Geete-minister Anant Geete, Union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises | PTI

Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL), a Maharatna company, could play a leading role in ending India's dependence on imported batteries and offering an impetus to the NDA government's e-vehicle agenda, Anant Geete, Union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises, said.

"BHEL is trying to make lithium-ion batteries in India after innovators contacted me directly,” Geete, a Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai, said while addressing a press conference to list his ministry's achievements in the past four years.

"Discussions are at a primary stage,” he said, adding that the government will have 20 per cent share in this independent venture. Geete said the government will have four foreign partners, who will fructify the project to manufacture the batteries.

The minister claimed that the motor vehicle industry has been the largest benefactor of 'Make in India' project. "All foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEM) have set up shops in India,” he said.

Under Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles (FAME) 1 project, work on laying out e-vehicle infrastructures in nine cities have begun, the minister said, adding that the works are now at a tendering stage. "Before September, we will have the FAME 2 policy ready. For this, we will seek budgetary support of Rs 9,300 crore instead of Rs 749 crore received last year," said Geete.

While refusing to divulge further details of the new scheme, the minister clarified to THE WEEK that Rs 1,000 crore of the Rs 9,300 crore will be earmarked for setting up charging infrastructure for e-vehicles in Indian cities.

In the recent years, the growth in the number of e-vehicles have tilted India's trade balance unfavourably towards battery exporters like China, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea.

Asked what the ministry's plans are in the next four years, he said, “The aim is to complete five years first."