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Sale of BS-VI non-compliant vehicles should stop from April 1, 2020: Centre to Supreme Court

In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the ministry of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) said it would not be possible to segregate pricing of diesel or have a differential pricing mechanism for the fuel for private vehicles.

india Updated: Jul 23, 2018 22:33 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The ministry of petroleum and natural gas told the Supreme Court that sale and manufacture of BS-VI non-compliant vehicles from April 1, 2020, would have an adverse affect since investment of around Rs 28,000 crore has already been made for having a cleaner BS-VI fuel.(HT/Photo for representation)

The Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) on Monday told the Supreme Court that the sale and manufacture of non-BS-VI vehicles should not be allowed from April 1, 2020, once the clean auto fuel is available across the country.

The ministry also submitted before a bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta that it was not possible to have a differential pricing of diesel for private and commercial vehicles. A higher price for diesel commercial vehicles would have disincentivised fleet-operators and other commercial vehicle users from opting for them.

Diesel is believed to be a more polluting fuel than petrol, although experts say that modern diesel engines are only marginally more polluting, if at all, than petrol ones. In an affidavit to Supreme Court, MoPNG agreed with the court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority’s (EPCA) suggestion that the sale of non BS-VI vehicles should stop to tackle rising air pollution levels in the country.

The ministry’s affidavit underlined that the expected emission benefits are much lower when BS-VI fuel is used in non BS-VI vehicles. The affidavit also goes on to suggest that production of BS-IV vehicles should be brought down gradually, much before the March 31, 2020 deadline, the last day of the sale of BS-IV fuel.

In an earlier affidavit, MoPNG promised to introduce BS-VI in 10 districts of National Capital Region (NCR) by April 1, 2019 and seven more from October 1, 2019. BS-VI fuel supply was started in Delhi on April 1, this year.

Taking the affidavit on record, the bench asked senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, representing Society for Indian Automobile Manufactures (SIAM) to respond to MoPNG’s affidavit and fixed July 30 for giving final orders in the matter.

SIAM has been asking for a grace period of three and six months after March 31, 2020 to clear its BS-IV stocks for passenger and commercial vehicles respectively. Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the bench in the case, welcomed MoPNG’s stand, which is different from that of Ministry of Environment of Forest (MoEF).

She said MoEF had supported SIAM in its demand for more time to sell its vehicles. SIAM’s contention is that three years is too less a time to shift to producing BS-VI vehicles. MoPNG has clearly stated in its latest affidavit that full benefits of the clean fuel can be derived only when the engine of the automobiles are BS-VI compliant.

“If manufacture of BS-IV vehicles is allowed till March 31, 2020, their sale will adversely affect the benefits of introduction of BS-VI fuel,” MoPNG said.

The ministry said the Public Sector Oil Marketing companies (OMC) are investing approximately ₹28,000 crore for upgradation of its refineries to enable supply of BS-VI. MoPNG turned down Singh’s suggestion to disincentivise diesel and have a differential pricing for passenger and commercial vehicles.

“Increasing diesel price to disincentivise passenger cars has adverse implications and is not advisable,” the ministry said. It would be difficult and impractical to implement differential price from the same outlets for same product, it added.

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 19:57 IST