Supreme Court of India has banned the sale and registration of Bharat Stage III (BS-III) vehicles from April 1, when BS-IV emission norms will come into force across the country.
Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta decided to take the “drastic” step, saying that BS-III vehicles could aggravate the already deteriorating air quality in the country and such a step was needed to handle the menace of pollution.
“On and from April 1, such vehicles that are not BS-IV compliant shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer, that is to say that such vehicles, whether two-wheeler, three-wheeler, four-wheeler or commercial vehicles will not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer on and from April 1,” a Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta ordered.
The Court further prohibited all the vehicle registering authorities from registering BS-III vehicles on and from April 1 under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
“All the vehicle registering authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 are prohibited from registering such vehicles on and from April 1, 2017 that do not meet BS-IV emission standards, except on proof that such a vehicle has already been sold on or before March 31,” the Court directed.
Auto manufacturers had argued that they were entitled by law to manufacture BS-III vehicles till March 31, 2017. They had not violated the law. So, the sale and registration of these vehicles should not be prohibited after April 1 and that they should be given reasonable time to dispose their stocks. They submitted that they were saddled with a stockpile of 8.24 lakh BS-III compliant vehicles.
But the Court did not pay heed to this. The Court, in fact, asked why manufacturers decided to sit back and not take proactive steps despite knowing way back in 2010 that BS-IV norms would kick in by April 2017.
However, the Court agreed with the arguments of its amicus curiae, who said that allowing their sale after April 1 would be a cause for “potential health hazard” for millions of people. The Court pointed out that the new fuel was “cleaner” and the oil refineries had spent about ₹30,000 crore since 2010 to produce it.
Bharat Stage Emission Standards:
Bharat stage emission standards’ are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change.
On recommendation of pollution control board, the government makes amendments in previous rules and formulates stricter norms. CPCB evaluates level of suspended particulate matters (SPM) mostly emitted by vehicles fitted with internal combustion engines.
These fuel emission norms were formulated on the lines of fuel emission standards presently in practice in Europe where norms like Euro 4 or Euro 6 ban use of ‘obsolete’ vehicles. These rules were first put into effect in the year 2000 in India and since then the extent of restrictions have gone up in the form of BS II, BS III and BS IV norms.
The government enforced BS III fuel emission norms in October 2010 across 13 cities and BS IV norms were imposed in April 2010.
Last year Indian government revealed that it will skip BS V norms and directly jump to implementing BS VI from BS IV rules.
The banned BS-III emission standards were first introduced in 2005 in NCR and selected 13 cities. Later in 2010, BS-III emission norms were introduced nationwide. Emissions are tested over the India Drive Cycle (IDC).
The emission norms led to phasing out of two stroke engines of two-wheelers. The electronic controls were also introduced keeping in view vehicular emissions.
The emission norms helped in bringing down the level of pollution significantly whereas there were increase in vehicle cost due to improved technology.
BS-IV norms have also been in practice since 2010 in 13 major cities. Now, it will be followed nationwide.
In order to comply with the BSIV norms, 2- and 3-wheeler manufacturers will have to fit an evaporative emission control unit, which should lower the amount of fuel that is evaporated when the motorcycle is parked.
BS IV standards introduced several new requirements, including tightened NOx+HC emission limits, harmonization of the emission testing cycle and the definition of motorcycle classes with the UNECE Global Technical Regulation 2 (GTR-2).
Beginning with BS IV standards, emissions are tested over the Worldwide Harmonized Motorcycle Test Cycle (WMTC).
History of Emission Norms in India
Vehicles are one of the contributors to air pollution and there is need to reduce vehicular emissions on a continous basis. Indian Automotive Industry recognises this fact and is continuously working towards controlling emissions as per the roadmap suggested by the Auto Fuel Policy and proactively developing environment-friendly technologies. India today has some of the most fuel efficient vehicles in the world.
The first stage of mass emission norms came into force for petrol vehicles in 1991 and in 1992 for diesel vehicles.
From April 1995, mandatory fitment of catalytic converters in new petrol passenger cars sold in the four metros, Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai along with supply of Unleaded Petrol (ULP) was affected. Availability of ULP was further extended to 42 major cities; and it is now available throughout the country.
In the year 2000, passenger cars and commercial vehicles met Euro I equivalent India 2000 norms, while two wheelers were meeting one of the tightest emission norms in the world.
Euro II equivalent Bharat Stage II norms were in force 2001 onwards in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
The first Auto Fuel Policy was announced in August 2002 which layed down the Emission and Fuel Roadmap upto 2010. As was given in the roadmap, four-wheeled vehicles moved to Bharat Stage III emission norms in 13 metro cities from April 2005 and rest of the country moved to Bharat Stage II norms.
Bharat Stage IV for 13 Metro cities was implemented April 2010 onwards and the rest of the country moved to Bharat Stage III. Bharat stage IV norms were extended to additonal 20 cities October 2014 onwards.
The Auto Fuel Policy 2025 was submitted to the Minstry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG) which had constituted an expert committe for the formulation of the same in December 2013. The document is currently hosted at the MoP&NG’s website. This policy document laid down the emission and fuel road map upto 2025.
The proposed road map envisaged implementation of BS IV norms across the country by April 2017 in a phased manner and BS V emission norms in 2020/2021 and BS VI from 2024.
However, the Delhi, NCR region of North India became notorious for its drastic rise in air pollution levels. This attracted attention and subsquently led to the government making a conscious decision of leapfrogging Bharat Stage V emission norms that were subject to implementation in 2020, as well as advancing introduction of Bharat Stage VI emission norms from 2024 to 2020.
Since India embarked on a formal emission control regime only in 1991, a gap in implementaion of these norms in comparison to Europe can be noticed. However, this gap has helped in the technologies to mature which in turn faciltated the Indian Auto sector in meeting the regulations at an affordable cost for the Indian consumers.
In India we are yet to address the vehicle and fuel system as a whole. It was in 1996 that the Ministry of Environment and Forests formally notified fuel specifications. Maximum limit for critical ingredients such as benzene level in petrol has been reduced continuously, from time to time, and was specified as 5% m/m and 3% m/m pa India and metroes, respectively. This limit now stands at 1%, which in line with international practices.
To address the high pollution in metro cities, 0.05% sulphur for petrol and diesel has been introduced since 2000-2001. The same has been reduced to 0.005% in April 2010 in 13 metro cities for both petrol and diesel. 350 and 150 ppm for diesel and petrol, respectively, in rest of the country, the limit on sulphur content for petrol and diesel is 150ppm and 350ppm, respectively. This content would be reduced further to 10 ppm in BS V and BS VI fuels in line with Auto Fuel Policy 2025. There is a need completely align the fuel properties with Europeon fuel quality so that vehicles can meet BS VI emission norms and also the durability requirement.