It’s been two weeks already since I returned from an amazing trip to the Statue Of Unity. Even now, my mind is still exploring the Statue Of Unity though physically, I’m back in Hyderabad. The more I try to calm my mind and get back to the present, the more I am pulled back to vibrant Gujarat. Thanks to the Instagram posts and stories. We were a group of 40 bloggers and influencers from across India. If you follow even one of us, you know that our Gujarat stories are still going on.
You would have come across a lot of Instagram posts and blog posts talking about places to visit at the Statue Of Unity and stay at Tent City 2. What you might have not come across yet is that the Statue Of Unity is India’ First EV only zone – or proposed to be made one.
During my trip, I spoke to the people who work there to understand more about India’s First EV Only Zone at Ekta Nagar, the Statue Of Unity. While that’s an amazing step, there’s something that I felt isn’t quite right. Read on to find out what.
Statue Of Unity as India’s First EV Only Zone
Once unknown to the world, Kevadiya – Ekta Nagar – has been put on the world map. Thanks to the World’s Tallest Statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. The rather untouched area, today is bustling with tourists from across the globe. From barely any tourists a few years ago to almost 500,000 tourists in 2021, SOU has transformed the place. And when you have something as massive and as popular as this, you need to ensure that you have a robust administration in place.
For that reason, the Statue Of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority (SOUADTGA) was formed. The task of this group is not only to promote tourism but also to develop the area around it. In the presence of the Prime Minister of India, it was decided to make the area around the Statue Of Unity free from vehicular pollution. And hence, it was proposed to make the Statue Of Unity as India’s First Electric Vehicle Only Zone. This obviously would be done in a phased manner, but the change is quite evident even today.
What exactly is an EV only zone?
As part of this initiative, all vehicles around the area would be electric vehicles. The first step towards that was to ensure the local transport is converted to EVs. All the protocol cars and cabs in the area are electric cars. Many of the local buses plying within the area are electric buses. They also have cycle and bike zone that provide EV cycles for tourists to commute. You’ll also come across Pink Autos in the town which is operated by women. These are also battery operated. Because it’s going to be an EV only zone, the change is quite evident. All the vehicles around are electric vehicles.
To ensure that this is successful, the authority said that they are going to assist the locals in staying around to buy EVs. This will be done by providing additional subsidies, EMI schemes and setting up charging stations. While these are good schemes on paper, it would be interesting to see how things span out in the next 3-5 years.
My first experience of riding in Tata Nexon EV
We were been ferried from place to place in a bus – not electric. We had travelled from Ahmedabad to the Statue Of Unity. It was this bus that took us to all the places of interest. What I noticed was, that wherever we went I saw a Tata Nexon EV following us.
For those of you who don’t know, I was invited to the launch of Tata Nexon in Kochi. Moreover, I also got a chance to drive it back then. On top of it, I’m excited about electric vehicles. So much so that I’m considering an electric two-wheeler to replace my ageing Honda Activa.
Getting back to the point, I so wanted to experience how it’s like riding in an electric vehicle. I requested the officials and they readily agreed!
The Tata Nexon EV is exact replica of the IC Engine based Tata Nexon. The paint job is refreshing and that’s what I guess attracts people. The aqua coloured accents and highlights just add the zing to the car. Plus, being an electric car, the Nexon EV comes with an auto gearbox. When I got inside, the driver pressed a button to start the car. And trust me, it felt as if nothing happened at all! No noise, no vibrations, absolutely nothing. He put the car to drive and the car moved effortlessly. If you are asleep, you’ll never know when the car starts moving.
Tata Nexon EV has an extremely quiet cabin, the motor generates good power, but sans much noise. If the music system and AC are turned off, you’ll actually feel like you’re floating in the air (that when the roads are good) The company claims a range of 300+ km on a single charge, but the driver said he got close to 300. Overall, my first experience of riding in an electric vehicle was sublime. It has only strengthened my will to bring an EV home soon!
Why do I feel transportation can be improved at the Statue Of Unity?
One thing that didn’t amuse me was the transportation within the Statue of Unity. Being an electric vehicle only zone, non-electric private vehicles are not allowed within the area. There’s massive parking at the entrance and all vehicles are to be parked there. Only if you have booked a package at Tent City, you will be able to bring in your private vehicle, otherwise, it stays in the parking.
Within the area, there’s nothing except a hop-on-hop-off shuttle bus service that takes you to various points in the Statue Of Unity. The bus runs at an interval of 15 – 20 mins from dedicated spots. The ticket price is Rs 30 as per the website. However, I got confusing inputs from various people I spoke to there. Some told me the service is free and picks up from the tent city, others told me you cannot get on the bus without a ticket to any of the attractions.
Further, the transportation services include cabs and battery-operated autos. What I can say is that you simply cannot commute anywhere within the area whenever you want. For example, we tried booking a cab there, and the operator told us we need to book a minimum of 4 hours in advance :/ The battery-operated autos are priced at Rs 1000 for 4 hours, booking of which I’m not yet clear. Further, I didn’t find any of these near Tent City 2 where we stayed.
I feel that it’s a dampener for many tourists coming in. People want to travel/commute to any place they want to, whenever they want to. In the current situation, if I crave ice cream, there’s no way I can go to a shop and buy one. If you’ve booked a package, and have a private vehicle, you might be able to do this, else your cravings will go unfulfilled. This is something that needs to improve in my opinion.
No noise, no pollution, electric vehicle zone etc. sounds extremely good and progressive. Even on the ground, the change is visible and you’ll see a lot of green number plate vehicles plying around. Electric vehicles everywhere ensure that there’s less pollution. The charging stations that are provided are quite helpful to accelerate the adoption. The schemes to help locals shift to EV is good too. All these are great steps taken to make the Statue Of Unity as India’s First EV only zone.
However, there needs to be some work done for tourists arriving in who don’t have their own vehicles. Community within the area is extremely difficult in such situations. Hence that’s something which needs to be looked into.
Overall, the Statue of Unity is a must-visit place. If you’ve been planning to visit, go ahead and experience the tallest statue in the world! Do let me know if you need any information about the Statue Of Unity. Mention in the comments below, Tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM on Instagram or Get In Touch.