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BS III, BS IV… BS VI? Here's why India's auto emission norms are, well, BS

After the South Asia correspondent of the New York Times documented his decision to move back to the United States to save his children's health due to the pollution in New Delhi, the government's plan to skip an entire stage of auto emission norms has now come under the scanner.

The auto emission norms are emission standards which are adopted by the government of a nation to check the air pollutants released from any internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.

Government might decide to skip the BS-V emission norms entirely. Reuters

Government might decide to skip the BS-V emission norms entirely. Reuters

These norms were introduced in India in 2000, when the Bharat Stage norms were adopted by the then government, based on the European emission norms. Each stage specifies a certain limit on the pollutants released, which is controlled by the type of fuel made by the oil companies and the upgradations and modifications made by the auto firms to their vehicles to control the pollutants released from the vehicle.

India had enforced Bharat stage III norms across the country since October 2010. In 13 major cities, Bharat stage IV emission norms were put in place since April 2010.

Currently, BS-IV petrol and diesel are being supplied in whole of Northern India covering Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and parts of Rajasthan and western UP. The rest of the country has BS-III grade fuel.

From 1 April, 2016, all of Goa, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha, Union Territories of Daman and Diu, Dadra-Nagar-Haveli and Andaman & Nicobar will get BS-IV fuel. The rest of the country is scheduled to get supplies of BS-IV from 1 April, 2017.

On the other hand, China had already implemented China V norms in 2013. India also lags behind the European auto emission norms by five years.

Although the initial plan was to upgrade the norms to BS-V by 1 April, 2020, a report of the Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas tabled in Parliament in May said that the Oil Ministry is "considering a proposal to switch over directly from BS-IV to BS-VI auto fuels by April 1, 2020 instead of stepwise upgradation from BS-IV to BS-V and then BS-V to BS-VI." BS-VI was initially to be introduced in 2024.

Skipping an entire stage of emission norms might not be a good idea as it will put a lot of pressure on the auto firms and even the oil companies, which have supported skipping of BS-V stage.

The auto firms in India have made it clear that they would face difficulty in funding the major upgradation and re-designing process of vehicles they will have to undertake if the government decides to skip BS-V.

Mahindra & Mahindra Executive Director Pawan Goenka in March had told PTI: "The jump from BS-IV (equivalent of Euro 4) to BS-VI (equivalent of Euro 6) standards by 2023 would be too much of a significant technological jump for the auto firms. We feel shifting from Euro 4 to Euro 6 would be difficult."

In fact, Goenka was talking about the difficulty to shift to BS-VI norms by 2023, whereas the government plans to enforce the BS-VI norms much earlier by 2020.

"In BS-V, vehicles have to be fitted with a diesel particulate filter, which needs to be optimised for Indian road conditions. In stage VI, selective catalytic reduction technology has to be optimised. At each stage, the technology would have to be validated over 6 lakh to 7 lakh km. Given the complexity of the process, these technologies can only be optimised in series and not simultaneously. It is not possible to skip BS-V,” Indian Express quoted KK Gandhi, executive director (tech), Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers as saying.

On the other hand, the Indian oil companies had told the government that they would be in a position to make BS-VI fuel ready by 2020, according to The Times of India.

However, sources from the auto industry told Indian Express that the oil firms have indicated that they would not be able to even meet the target of providing BS-IV fuel across the country by 2017.

“It requires an investment of at least Rs 2,500 crore to upgrade one particular refinery in order to produce superior fuel. If we do that, our margins are going to take a hit. So, who will compensate for that?” Indian Express quoted a senior Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd executive as saying.

The report added that due to the reluctance of the refiners, the oil ministry might petition the Finance Ministry to subsidise the investment for upgradation to BS-VI.

According to a PTI report, oil refineries will need to invest a staggering Rs 80,000 crore in upgrading petrol and diesel quality to meet cleaner Euro-IV/V fuel specifications by 2020. It should be noted this amount will be needed for BS-V norms, even though there is not much difference between BS-V and VI.

(With inputs from PTI)


Published Date: Jun 02, 2015 13:30 PM | Updated Date: Jun 02, 2015 14:33 PM

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