[Editorial Analysis] Advancing BS-VI emission norms

Mains Paper 2: Governance

Prelims level: BS-VI emission norms

Mains level: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Context

• On October 24, the Supreme Court banned the sale and registration of vehicles conforming to Bharat Stage (BS)-IV emission standards across the country, from April 1, 2020.

• It citing “alarming and critical” pollution levels.

• With this decision, vehicle makers will only be able to sell BS-VI compliant vehicles from April 2020.

• The BS-IV vehicles already sold will continue to ply.

When were emission standards introduced?

• In India, the first stage of mass emission norms came into force for petrol vehicles in 1991 and for diesel vehicles in 1992.

• However, it was in 2000 that vehicles both passenger and commercial met the Euro-I standards.

• The BS-II (equivalent to Euro-II standards) norms came into force in 2001 and were implemented in a phased manner.

• When the BS-III was introduced, it paving the way for implementation of BS-IV by April 2017.

What happened to BS-V?

• According to an earlier road map by the government, BS-V emission norms were to come into effect by 2020-21, while BS-VI was to be implemented 2024 onwards.

• The drastic increase in air pollution levels, particularly in the Delhi-NCR region, the government decided to leapfrog BS-V, while also advancing the introduction of BS-VI emission norms to 2020.

• The implementation of BS-VI norms will bring Indian emission regulations almost on a par with EU regulations.

Who gets impacted, and how?

• The Supreme Court order impacts both the industry and consumers.

• For the industry, the decision brings clarity on the timelines for sale.

• The government had earlier proposed a grace period of three months for manufacturers to sell BS-IV compliant passenger vehicles and six months for buses and trucks that may remain unsold with the dealer or manufacturer post April 1, 2020.

• The industry had also argued in court that since they were allowed to manufacture BS-IV vehicles till March 31, 2020, they should be granted reasonable time to sell that stock.

• An industry expert pointed out that manufacturers will need to start manufacturing BS-VI complaint vehicles by February 2020, while phasing out BS-IV compliant vehicles.

• The industry has pointed out that this advancement will lead to shorter time for vehicle-testing and validation.

• The customers will get access to better technology and hopefully better air.

• According to research agency ICRA, the price of diesel cars is expected to go up by about Rs. 75,000 compared to an increase of about Rs. 20,000 for petrol cars.

• The BS-VI fuel is also expected to cost more.

Conclusion

• BS-VI compliant vehicles will be more expensive.

• For BS-VI compliant vehicles to comply, it will be critical that the fuel of the desired specification be made available across the country before the deadline.

• While it will be possible for BS-IV compliant cars to run smoothly on BS-VI fuel, BS-VI vehicles will not be able to operate optimally on lower-grade fuels.

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