The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), an autonomous Supreme Court-mandated organisation, has asked the automobile industry associations and the state transport departments to stop registering all vehicles — including trucks, buses, cars, SUVs, two-wheelers and three-wheelers — with BS-III engines from April 1.
Earlier the government had mandated that vehicles manufactured until March 31, 2017 with BS-III engines, can be registered. However, the current directive from the EPCA would mean vehicles that are already with dealers shouldn’t be registered.
EPCA also wants the state transport authorities to stop giving new All India tourist and national permits to vehicles with BS-III engines in the national capital region (NCR).
The directive comes at a time when the national capital region is reeling under heavy pollution and the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) have often blamed it on vehicle emission.
To put things in context, a BS-III stage engine emits more particulate matter — the main reason for pollution — than a BS-IV one. “BS-IV vehicles bring down particulate matter emission by almost 80%. As of April 1, no new registration of non-BS IV compliant vehicles, including those with national permits, will be allowed in NCR,” said Sunita Narain, member of EPCA.
The Society of Indian Automobiles Manufacturers (SIAM), the automakers lobby, did not see the directive as a positive move. With an inventory of 8.9 lakh BS-III vehicles, estimates show that the likely impact for the auto sector would be around Rs 17,000 crore. It added that the large inventory was a result of demonetisation as sales had significantly declined over the past two-three months.
“People had been detesting from buying vehicles because of demonetisation and because people are aware of the existing law, ,” said Abdul Majeed, partner at consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“We have been following the guidelines that has been laid down by the Union ministry of road transport and highways, which states that vehicles that have been manufactured until March 2017 can be registered beyond April 1,” said KK Gandhi, executive director at SIAM.
Next, the pollution control authority is going to hold a meeting with automobile manufacturers to discuss in detail the inventories with each company and ways to utilize or scrap them.
“This will also hit people who have bought chassis – 80% of the trucks are sold in chassis. For us, to change the production line, it takes time. The supply chain needs to change and the order for the components needs to change,” said Gandhi.
Automakers complained that it would not be possible to bring their inventory down to zero in a matter of months.
This is not the first time that the government has made lives difficult for automakers. Earlier, the Supreme Court banned all diesel vehicles with engine capacity of over 2,000cc, and the NGT had ordered a ban on diesel vehicles plying on the road for more than 10 years.