January 21, 2016
Recognising the significant contribution of the transport sector to overall pollution, the Government of India had introduced fuel quality and emission standards, to regulate the pollution caused from vehicular emissions. The Bharat Stage (BS) I emission standards which were analogous to the Euro I emission standards were introduced in the year 2000 and were subsequently upgraded to BS II, III and IV periodically. Currently, India has dual emission standards, wherein 63 cities have access to BS IV fuel quality but the rest of the country still uses BS III fuel.
A WHO study reported that 13 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, were located in India. Severe air pollution levels have resultantly led to a spate of quick-fix measures in the country. Attempt to halve the vehicular population on roads through the much talked about ‘odd-even formula’, the ban on registration of diesel cars in Delhi, are some such recent measures.
In May 2014, the government appointed Expert Committee chaired by Mr. Saumitra Chaudhury, Member, Planning Commission (now rechristened as National Institution for Transforming India or NITI Aayog) submitted the “Auto Fuel Vision and Policy Report-2025” in order to provide the roadmap for a country wide adoption of BS VI fuel quality and emission standards.
The committee had recommended to move towards a country wide adoption of BS IV quality fuel by 2017. It had also recommended subsequent transition to BS V fuel and vehicle norms by 2020 and BS VI norms by 2024. In summary, the committee recommended a ten-year lead time (from 2014 to 2024) for the introduction of BS VI fuel quality and vehicle emission standards.
Shakti, along with partner organisations working on transport related air quality and emission issues, have submitted detailed analysis to key Government stakeholders on the economic and public health benefits of adopting a more aggressive BS VI fuel and vehicles standards in the country.
The Government of India had subsequently appointed a Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) in 2015 to review the recommendations of the ‘Auto Fuel Vision and Policy Report-2025’. Resultantly, the PSC has recommended: a nationwide introduction of BS VI quality fuel across the nation by 2020 and financing the requisite technological upgradation of the Oil refineries through the benefits accrued from the falling crude oil prices, amongst other recommendations. MoPNG has agreed to adopt this fuel quality timeline and has decided to skip the intermittent BS V stage and move directly from BS IV to BS VI quality fuel.
Based on these recommendations the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH) initiated discussions with the automobile manufacturers to ensure an accelerated adoption timeline for BS VI vehicular emission standards, complementing the fuel quality timeline. After extensive stakeholder consultations it was decided that adopting the fuel quality timeline would not be possible as vehicles would need an incremental technology upgradation from BS IV to BS V and BS V to BS VI. However, it was decided to advance the timeline by one year i.e. BS V vehicle emission norms to be adopted by 2019 and BS VI by 2023. Subsequently, during the lead-up to the Conference of Parties (CoP) 21, in Paris this timeline has been advanced further for Light Duty vehicles to demonstrate India’s commitment towards reducing emissions from fossil fuels. The revised timeline proposed an adoption of BS VI in passenger cars, two and three wheelers and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) by 2021. The BS VI timeline for Heavy Duty Vehicles i.e. buses and commercial vehicles will remain to be 2023.
In summary, the following tables provides details of the original and revised timelines for the adoption of BS VI standard fuel and vehicles in the country:
||Original Timeline (As per the Auto Fuel Policy Committee of 2014)
||Revised Timeline(As per the Parliamentary Steering Committee for implementation of Auto Fuel Policy-2015)
||Latest Revisions**Advanced timeline for Light Duty Passenger and Commercial Vehicles (Passenger Cars, Light Commercial vehicles, 2-Wheelers and 3-Wheelers)
|Fuel Quality Standard
||BS* IV-2017BS V-2020
BS VI -2024
BS VI -2020(BS V leapfrogged)
|Vehicle Emission Standard
||BS IV-2017BS V-2020
BS VI -2024
|BS IV-2017BS V-2019
BS VI -2023
|BS IV- in most big cities by April 2016. Rest of the country by
April, 2017.BS V- LeapfroggedBS VI –2020.
*BS- Bharat Stage (equivalent to Euro standards)
**Announced by the Government on Jan 6,2016, however an official notification is awaited.
 World Health Organisation,2014. Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database 2014. http://www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/databases/cities/en/