The Supreme Court on Monday clarified that manufacturers of farming vehicles like tractors and combine harvesters and construction equipment vehicles (CEVs) can continue to sell BS-III tractors. A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur, while stating that the March ban order on BS-III (Bharat Stage III emission norms) order applies only to commercial goods carriers and passenger vehicles, also said farming vehicles don’t fall under the two banned categories as they have different emission norms.
The Supreme Court had on March 29 banned the sale and registration of all BS-III vehicles, including two-wheelers, three-wheelers, four-wheelers and commercial vehicles, after March 31. While the government informed the court that it is finalising the new emission norms for tractors and negotiations are on to introduce the new norms by 2020, the tractor and construction-equipment makers said Bharat Tractor Emission Norms (TREM-IIIA) and Construction Equipment Vehicles (CEV) norms apply to them and not BS-IV norms which are applicable to two and four-wheeler vehicles.
Senior counsel P Chidambaram pointed out that tractors follow Bharat Tractor Emission Norms (TREM-IIIA) whereas construction equipment vehicles have a different Bharat Stage III norms and these are different from the BS-IV norms followed by regular vehicles. He further said agricultural tillers, earth-moving and construction equipment fall under different vehicle categories under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules.
Chidambaram further contended that the ban imposed by the apex court on March 29 and April 13 was being misinterpreted by many state RTOs and this had resulted in new construction equipment vehicles not being registered.
The tractor industry is currently working with the government to skip the next level of emission norm TREM-IIIB and go directly to TREM-IV by 2021-22, which will require the availability of high-quality fuels across the country.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had last month also sought review of the Supreme Court’s decision that banned the sale and registration of all BS-III vehicles after March 31.
The SC had also directed registering authorities not to register any vehicle which failed to meet BS-IV emission standards on and from April 1, except on proof that such a vehicle has already been sold on or before March 31, 2017.