The Centre will enforce the more stringent Bharat Stage VI fuel emission norms for vehicles from April 1, 2020, advancing the deadline by a year as part of ongoing efforts to curb pollution.
The decision comes after India agreed to an ambitious Paris agreement aimed at reducing global carbon emissions and at the time when air pollution in most Indian cities, especially in central and northern India, have reached alarming levels.
The decision, taken at an inter-ministerial meeting on Wednesday, comes in the midst of a radical road rationing scheme introduced in Delhi which allows vehicles with odd and even last numbers to ply on alternate days.
The deadline for implementing Bharat Stage VI was earlier planned as a two-stage shift from the current BS IV–BS V by 2019 and BS VI in two years after that, but with Wednesday’s decision, BS V will be skipped altogether. It would also mean that the less efficient BS IV standard will continue for an extra year.
Wednesday’s meeting, chaired by road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, was also attended by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, heavy industries minister Anant Geete and environment minister Prakash Javadekar.
“We have decided to skip BS VI emission norms. It is a bold and historic decision and a commitment to (the) environment,” Gadkari said after the meeting. All the other ministries have assured cooperation, he said.
Environmentalists welcomed the decision, saying it will help in reducing emissions and will give a push to cleaner fuel and vehicle technologies. “It was a long-awaited decision and has come at the right time to tell people that the government is concerned about ill effects of rising pollution,” said Anumita Roy Chaudhary of the Centre for Science and Environment.
European and Indian stand emission norms are on par, but while Europe has already implemented Euro VI, most of India is still covered by BS III norms.
A previous meeting of an inter-ministerial group, including representatives of ministries of road transport and highways, petroleum, heavy industries and environment and forests, was unable to reach a consensus with the petroleum ministry expressing inability to meet a 2019 deadline for BS V.
Automakers have said in the past that they would not be able to ensure all vehicles conform to BS VI before 2013. It remains to be seen how they respond to Wednesday’s decision. It is estimated that petroleum refiners would need to invest Rs 28,000-30,000 crore to upgrade to BS VI. Carmakers would also need to invest in the region of Rs 50,000 per unit to switch from BS IV to BS VI.
Since October 2010, BS IV auto fuels are being supplied in the whole of northern India, covering J&K, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, parts of Rajasthan and western UP. The rest of the country gets BS III grade fuel.