In January, the Delhi government adopted the ‘odd/even’ formula to crack down on rising pollution. Meanwhile, the Union government advanced the date for implementing the Bharat Stage VI norms by four years to 2020. Currently, India, at Bharat Stage IV (BSIV), is way behind Europe that has already adopted EuroVI. But, change seems to be in the air. The Centre has come in with a draft policy for those willing to scrap vehicles that are over 12 years. In return, the consumer will be offered a 15% rebate on a new car. That includes a 60% cut on the excise duty. That could well be a step in the right direction. Apart from improving air quality, it would also lead to increased sales of all kinds of vehicles. That is something that auto companies will welcome.
A SIAM study shows that switching from BSII to BSIV will reduce pollutants by almost half for light duty and diesel vehicles, around 56% for petrol cars and 55% for commercial vehicles. Moving to BS VI will cut emissions by 20%, 2% and 62% for LCV, petrol and commercial vehicles respectively. However, the cost of doing that is huge. Petroleum refineries are expected to incur an investment of Rs 40,000 crore to upgrade while car manufacturers claim Rs 50,000 crore would be needed for upgrading vehicles. If this is done in phases, then people in the big cities can over time sell their old cars to those in smaller towns. While the proposal will help improve air quality, it needs to be made a little more attractive so that it gains traction with car owners.