Daily Current Affairs – 12th January, 2016

Daily Current Affairs – 12th January, 2016

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 challenges:

The government could face two key challenges in implementing the decision

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


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