Indian armed forces seek exemption from BS-VI norms
India’s armed forces and paramilitary wings have asked the government for an exemption from the stringent vehicle pollution rules that will kick in from next year, according to multiple officials aware of the development, with some of them saying the waiver is likely to be granted.
Beginning April 1, 2020, all new vehicles in the country will need to conform to the Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) norms, which lay down drastically tighter exhaust emission requirements for vehicles compared to the BS-IV applicable at present. India skipped stage five after concerns over rapidly rising pollution called for strong steps.
“Defence vehicles were already given exemption from BS IV norms in 2016 under Rule 115 pertaining to emission rules of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules. Followed by this we got a request from the ministry of home affairs too and they too were given an exemption for BS IV norms till December, 2019. Now, they have conveyed that it will be difficult to procure new vehicles till 2019 and have said that the dispensation given to the army should also be given to paramilitary vehicles because their operational areas are also similar,” according to one of the officials, who asked not to be named.
“We are likely to propose that an exemption from BS VI should also be given to both the military and the paramilitary,” the official added.
While no official estimates are available for how many such vehicles are there due to security reasons, a person aware of defence deployments said the army alone has about 150,000-160,000 terrestrial vehicles, such as SUVs trucks and infantry combat vehicles.
In comparison, the total number of vehicles registered in Delhi was last estimated at a little over 10 million.
According to experts, military vehicles around the world are exempted from stringent pollution control rules. “This is in part due to difficulty in assuring ultra-low sulphur fuel (10 parts per million) supply in all of the remote areas where a military vehicle might operate,” said Anup Bandivadekar, passenger vehicles programme director, international council of clean transportation.
He added that such exemptions may not present a serious environmental concern since only a few thousand new vehicles are deployed each year. “That said, the Indian military forces would be wise to double down on efforts to cut the consumption of gasoline and diesel. Such efforts will deliver energy security, climate as well as air quality benefits in the long run,” Bandivadekar added.
A BS-VI vehicle, in case of some exhaust gases, will be cleaner by as much as 90% compared to BS-IV vehicles.
According to officials in the army, who asked not to be named, most defence forces worldwide have vehicles that conform to norms similar to BS-III. “It is due to operational requirement and constraints. Sensors of BSIV and BSVI shall push vehicles to limp-home mode,” the official added, referring to fail-safe feature mandated by current pollution control norms. When any component that deals with combustion fails in modern vehicles, on-board computers limit the power output.
According to the government official quoted in the first instance, the transport ministry will soon issue a final notification. “We have to finalise the notification after getting the minister’s approval,” this person said, adding that it is likely to be published in the Gazette in April-June 2020.