Despite the lockdown, India on 01-Apr officially moved to a regime of tighter emission norms for motorised two- and four-wheelers. At fuel stations of India’s oil majors, only the low-sulphur fuel that complies with Bharat Stage-VI emission norms are being sold; so will cars at stores, whose engines meet the stricter norms.
Indian Oil Corporation started selling BS-VI fuel around March 17 at its 28,500 fuel stations, an official said. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited said on Twitter that it had rolled out BS-VI fuel across its network of over 16,000 fuel stations. The fuel outlets of Hindustan Petroleum said in a statement that they had switched to “greener and cleaner fuel” across all retail outlets. “This is a big step towards sustainable development of the nation and we are proud to be a part of it.” Several outlets in the Delhi-National Capital Region had already been selling BS-VI fuel.
“Pan-India roll out of environment friendly BS-6 fuel is a reflection of our commitment towards human and environmental health,” Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan wrote on Twitter.
However, car dealers, several of whom were unable to sell their stock of the older BS-IV engines, were unhappy. According to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA), dealers nationwide are left with unsold vehicles worth around US$ 1bn, comprising 700,000 two-wheelers, 15,000 passenger cars and 12,000 commercial vehicles. Separately, there are over 1m two-wheelers, 2,250 passenger cars and 2,000 commercial vehicles that have been sold, but are yet to be registered.
As per BS-VI emission norms, petrol vehicles will have to effect a 25% reduction in their NOx, or nitrogen oxide emissions. Diesel engines will have to reduce their HC+NOx (hydro carbon + nitrogen oxides) by 43%, their NOx levels by 68% and particulate matter levels by 82%.
According to Rajan Wadhera, president, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, the emission norms of these new vehicles are now on a par with Europe. The emission norms of all models of two-wheelers in India are ahead of Europe (2021) and Japan (2022), and India is the first country to adopt this level of emission norms. “More than 1,000 models and variants of BS-IV were to be developed to BS-VI emission norms in just 3 years, and the industry in the process is investing ₹70,000 crore (US$ 10bn) for this achievement,” he said in a statement
In 2016, the Narendra Modi government said India would directly progress from BS-IV norms to BS-VI, skipping the intermediary stage. Last October, when discussing Delhi’s air pollution, Minister for Environment Prakash Javadekar said BS-VI norms were a “revolutionary step” in the transformation of fuels. He added that there had been an 80% reduction in particulate matter emissions and a 30% reduction in NOx emissions in BS- IV heavy-duty diesel vehicles, compared with BS-III norms. Nearly US$ 9bn were spent on the switch-over to BS-VI fuels.