With BS-VI roll-out tampering may rise, RTOs told

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Published on Feb 04, 2020 12:37 AM IST
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By, Mumbai

With the implementation of Bharat Stage (BS) VI emissions standards, vehicles are set to get costlier as these will require advanced emission control technologies, which may lead to a rise in equipment tampering, Maharashtra’s road transport officers (RTO) have been told.

In less than two months, the country will move from BS-IV standards to BS-VI to reduce vehicle emissions. The move to implement BS-VI norms comes following a Supreme Court order dated October 24, 2018, that states no BS-IV vehicle will be sold or registered in the country with effect from April 1, 2020 after which only BS-VI compliant vehicles will be sold. The new norms could reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions from vehicles by 90% and 56%, respectively.

On Monday, at a workshop titled ‘Are our cities BS-VI ready?’ organised by the state transport department and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), additional transport commissioner Satish Sahasrabudhe, said, “We need to be prepared for BS-VI as regulators. To avoid any chaos, CSE met with the transport commissioner last month, and it was decided that all pollution under control (PUC) centres will be audited. And such workshops will keep us ahead on future changes.”

India is the only vehicle-producing region globally that will leap from BS-IV directly to BS-VI (by skipping the BS-V stage). “BS-VI will be a paradigm shift in emission control for polluted cities. Studies have indicated a 2.8 lakh cumulative reduction in deaths by 2030 owing to cleaner fuel usage,” said Anumita Roychowdury, executive director (research and advocacy), CSE. “However, consumers have to pay attention to the maintenance and inspection of BS-VI compliant vehicles to ensure maximum benefit. The transport department will have to phase in new generation emission inspection system to ensure proper maintenance of advanced emission control systems, and prevent tampering.”

The Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), an autonomous body affiliated to the Union heavy industries ministry, estimated high initial cost due to BS-VI technology. The cost of heavy trucks is likely to increase by 1.75 lakh to 2.25 lakh, diesel cars by 65,000 to 95,000, petrol cars by 8,000 to 12,000, and 3,500 to 6,000 increase for two-wheelers. Environmentalists said the health benefits from lower vehicle emissions outweigh the rise in vehicle costs.

The increased cost is attributed to major changes for tail pipe emissions. Along with 18 new sensors, BS-VI compliant vehicles will come with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to trap fine to ultra-fine particulate matter, while an autograde urea tank will be attached to the exhaust system to neutralise nitrogen oxide emissions through selective catalytic reduction (SCR). More engine based improvements will also be implemented.

“We are not yet technologically equipped as a nation to deal with complexities of vehicles developed under BS-VI. If citizens are not careful, there will be chaos,” said SS Thipse, senior deputy director, ARAI. “So many sensors will create a lot of confusion among users. Roadside mechanics will not be able to service these vehicles as we need technicians with laptops to diagnose basic faults.”

From April 1, retail outlets will have to sell 10 parts per million (ppm) sulphur fuel as against the 50ppm. “Adulteration of fuel is a major issue. We have diesel adulterated with kerosene and naptha. Tampering will happen because there is an illegal trade running in India for all kinds of automobile equipment,” added Thipse.

“We saw cases of tampering globally when Euro-VI was being implemented; simply because the parts are expensive,” said Anup Bandivadekar, programme director and regional lead, International Council on Clean Transportation, the US. He added that globally, illegal kits are used instead of the correct part to cheat pollution tests. “I have no reason to believe that this will not happen in India. It has to be addressed at multiple levels, and RTO’s are on the frontlines to address this,” he said.

WHY BS-VI IS NEEDED

Mumbai’s air quality is worsening: Annual average particulate pollution is rising in Mumbai Metropolitan region.

•According to the Centre’s data, the three-year average of PM10 concentration increased by 32% between 2012-14 and 2016-18.

•Mumbai needs 59% reduction in particulate concentration to meet the national ambient air quality standards.

•While this requires multi-sectoral action, transport is the second highest emitter of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides in Mumbai

“While the city needs to maximise the benefits of BS-VI, the Maharashtra transport has to prepare for strengthening the pollution under control (PUC) systems, and go beyond to develop the next generation on-road emission inspection and management system to match the advanced technology. This is a roadmap for getting ready for BS-VI.”

Anumita Roychowdury, executive director (research and advocacy), CSE

TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT APPOINTS CSE TO AUDIT PUC CENTRES IN CITY

The Maharashtra transport department has appointed the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi to audit all existing pollution under control (PUC) centres in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai) to understand how the regional transport offices (RTOs) will enforce regulations under the new BS-VI norms. CSE will identify gaps for proper enforcement, process of tests, quality control, and improve level of compliance so that emissions from legacy (older) vehicles do not interfere with BS-VI compliant ones.

STEPS FORWARD

To leverage the BS-VI transition, it will be important to ensure the following in Mumbai and other regions of Maharashtra:

•Strengthen the PUC system and its enforcement for the legacy vehicles

•Phase in more advanced on-road emissions inspection to ensure the advanced emissions control systems are performing optimally

•Introduce remote sensing monitoring that can measure a range of parameters even as the vehicles are moving on the road to identify and fix the gross polluters for maximum impact

•Strong surveillance of fuel quality to stop adulteration and misuse of high sulphur fuels

•Adopt measures of physical and other checks to prevent emissions frauds and emissions cheating by using defeat devices or by disabling advanced emissions monitoring systems

•Build consumer awareness related to this new technology to reduce risks

(Source: CSE)

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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