Proposed Fuel Policy Does A Balancing Act

Updated: Oct 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Mashelkar Committee report on the auto fuel policy is a balanced document, says TERI. The expert committee on auto fuel policy headed by Dr R A Mashelkar, director general, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, submitted its final report on September 25, 2002, nine months after its interim report. The expert committee was constituted in September 2001 by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It was entrusted with the task of recommending an auto fuel policy for the country along with a road map for its implementation. After studying the report, the Urban and Transport Systems Group (Policy Analysis Division) at TERI has found it to be a balanced auto fuel document.

The final report proposes two separate road mapsone for new vehicles and another for in-use vehicles (excluding cars and two wheelers). Stricter standards have been recommended for 11 cities namely Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahemdabad, Surat, Pune, Bangalore, Kanpur and Agra as these cities are highly polluted. Further new vehicles (other than two and three wheelers) in these eleven cities will have to meet the Euro III norms by April 1, 2005 and Euro IV emission norms by April 1, 2010. The rest of the country will have Euro III standards by April 1, 2010.

The report also recognises the fact it is not necessary for the government to mandate the use of any specific fuel or engine technology for the purposes of achieving best air quality. The government should restrict itself to setting of the emission standards. This is the practice world over, points out Dr R K Pachauri, director-general of TERI. The report also suggests an integrated approach with respect to emission control. It is important to understand the components of pollutants first and foremost, adds Dr Pachauri.

The committee further recognises that CNG/LPG is not a feasible option for the entire country. CNG as an alternative fuel is only possible in those cities that are fed by natural gas pipelines and have the necessary infrastructure for distribution.

In terms of time given for refinery upgrading, the committee feels that the time frame from four and a half year to five and a half year seems to be on the higher side. Also, it would be more cost effective if the refineries upgraded from Euro II to Euro IV directly, at least in those refineries that have a catalytic reformer, catalytic cracker and/or a hydrocracker.

Also, the committee has made specific recommendations with respect to detecting and preventing adulteration in fuels. BPCL, for example, has pioneered a locking system. The system guarantees the quality of fuel right from the supply point to the 1,100 Pure For Sure retail outlets across the country.