BS VI norms in India – Enforcement Issues

Supreme Court ordered a total ban on the sale and registration of Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) vehicles in India from April 1, 2020 onwards.

What was the order?

  • The manufacturers were permitted to manufacture BS-IV vehicles till March 31, 2020
  • Hence the government proposed to give reasonable time till June 30, 2020, to sell those BS-IV vehicles.
  • But the court declared that only BS-VI vehicles will be permitted after the April 1, 2020, at the same time BS-VI grade petrol and diesel would also come into force across India.
  • The court also declared that the right to life (Article 21) includes the right of a citizen to live in a clean environment.
  • The court cited the need of the hour was to move towards utilisation of cleaner fuel along with developing an engine accommodative to the fuels.

What are Bharat Stage emissions standards?

  • The Bharat Stage emission standards are standards created by the government to control the output of air pollutants from the internal combustion engines.
  • It includes both emission standards for new vehicles and also specifications for commercial petrol as well as diesel fuels.
  • In April 1999 the Supreme Court of India ordered that all vehicles in India have to meet Euro I or India 2000 norms by 1 June.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) fixes timelines and standards which have to be followed by automakers.
  • BS norms are based on European emission norms which are referred to in a similar manner of ‘Euro 4’ and ‘Euro 6’.
  • Enforcement of the intermediate BS-V standard was originally scheduled for 2019.
  • However the Centre had announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020.

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How is BS-VI different from BS-IV?

  • The primary difference between the current BS-IV and the upcoming BS-VI auto fuel norms is the existence of sulphur.
  • The BS-VI fuel is estimated to bring around an 80 percent reduction of sulphur, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.
  • The emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to be reduced by nearly 70% and 25% from cars with petrol engines.
  • Furthermore, BS VI will bring down the cancer causing particulate matter in diesel cars by a phenomenal 80 percent.

What are the concerns raised?

  • The Supreme Court order may hit the automobile industry as it takes years for automakers to create a new kind of an engine or to tweak around with the current ones utilised in their vehicles.
  • Then comes the task of establishing full scale production comes up.
  • All of this comes at a cost which consequently makes the vehicle more expensive.
  • This is a cause of concern for automakers considering how price sensitive the Indian market is.
  • In the earlier transition, automakers were supposed to make their models BS IV compliant by April 1, 2017.
  • Whereas some automakers have reached the targets and updated their products, there is a huge stock of vehicles remains to be sold into the market that are BS-III compliant and as per the latest SC decision, they won’t be able to do so.
  • Recently, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had told the court that the companies were holding stock of around 8.24 lakh such vehicles.
  • Moreover, there is also the need for cleaner fuel to run these vehicles that satisfy a stricter emission regulation as it is not feasible to make internal combustion engines pollute less while utilising poor quality of fuel.
  • Using the introduction of higher grade fuel will be beneficial only if it is done along with the launch of BS-VI compliant vehicles.
  • Using BS-VI fuel in the existing BS-IV engines or, conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel, may not be effective in reducing vehicular pollution.
  • The Centre claims that automakers have been provided sufficient time for the transition and they have done their part to provide cleaner fuel.
  • But automakers have a huge stock that does not satisfy with the soon-to-be-enforced BS VI emission norm and they risk facing huge losses.

Practice Question

Discuss the key differences between BS IV and BS VI emission norms and examine the challenges in implementing BS VI emissions norms for the automakers in India.

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