Daily Current Affairs – 12th January, 2016DEVENDRA VISHWAKARMA
What needs to be done to upgrade to BS-VI?
- Four years from now, the government wants to leap directly to BS-VI auto emission norms from the existing BS-IV, skipping BS-V.
- But the challenges, before both oil companies and automakers, are enormous.
What is the issue?
- Recently the government took a decision after a meeting of the Ministers for Road Transport, Petroleum, Heavy Industries, and Environment to bring forward the nationwide rollout of BS-VI vehicular emission norms.
- The decision is in line with promises made by India at the Climate Change Conference in Paris last month, and indicates a step against the dangerously high levels of air pollution in major Indian cities like Delhi etc.
Bharat Stage (BS) Emission Norms:
- The Bharat Stage emission standards are norms instituted by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
- India has been following the European (Euro) emission norms, though with a time lag of five years.
- BS-IV norms are currently applicable in 33 cities in which the required grade of fuel is available; the rest of India still conforms to BS-III standards.
An historical outlook into emission norms:
- India introduced emission norms first in 1991, and tightened them in 1996, when most vehicle manufacturers had to incorporate technology upgrades like catalytic converters to cut exhaust emissions.
- Fuel specifications based on environmental considerations were notified first in April 1996, to be implemented by 2000, and incorporated in BIS 2000 standards.
- Following the landmark Supreme Court order of April 1999, the Centre notified Bharat Stage-I (BIS 2000) and Bharat Stage-II norms, broadly equivalent to Euro I and Euro II respectively.
- BS-II was for the NCR and other metros; BS-I for the rest of India.
- From April 2005, in line with the Auto Fuel Policy of 2003, BS-III and BS-II fuel quality norms came into existence for 13 major cities, and for the rest of the country respectively.
- Subsequently, BS-IV and BS-III fuel quality norms were introduced from April 2010 in 13 major cities and the rest of India respectively.
Emission norms for future:
- As per the roadmap in the auto fuel policy, BSV and BS-VI norms were to be implemented from April 1, 2022, and April 1, 2024, respectively.
- But in November 2015, the Ministry of Road Transport issued a draft notification, advancing the implementation of BSV norms for new four-wheel vehicle models to April 1, 2019, and for existing models to April 1, 2020.
- The corresponding dates for BS-VI norms were brought forward to April 1, 2021, and April 1, 2022, respectively.
But the government’s unanimous decision to leap-frog to BS-VI directly from 01/04/2020, has skipped the BS-V stage all together.
The government could face two key challenges in implementing the decision
- There are questions about the ability of oil marketing companies to quickly upgrade fuel quality from BS-III and BS-IV standards to BS-VI, which is likely to cost upwards of Rs 40,000 crore.
- More challenging is the task of getting auto firms to make the leap.
- Automakers have clearly said that going to BS-VI directly would leave them with not enough time to design changes in their vehicles, considering that two critical components — diesel particulate filter and selective catalytic reduction module — would have to be adapted to India’s peculiar conditions, where running speeds are much lower than in Europe or the US.
Fuel Quality Costs:
The government has been unable to move completely to BS-IV because refiners have been unable to produce the superior fuel in the required quantities.
BS-IV petrol and diesel essentially contains less sulphur, a major air pollutant. Sulphur also lowers the efficiency of catalytic converters, which control emissions.
- Broadly, BS-IV petrol and diesel have 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur, as compared to 150 ppm for petrol and 350 ppm for diesel under BS-III standards.
- Oil companies are learnt to have put in Rs 30,000 crore between 2005 and 2010 to upgrade; the auto industry has made investments of a similar size.
- Oil firms will have to invest another about Rs 40,000 crore to upgrade fuel quality to BS-VI; additional investments by automakers to upgrade will inevitably raise the prices of vehicles.