The Centre today told the Supreme Court that the sale and manufacture of non-compliant BS-VI vehicles across the country should not be allowed from April 1, 2020. It also told the bench, comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, that it was not possible to segregate pricing of diesel or have a differential pricing of the fuel for private vehicles. In an affidavit, filed before the bench, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said it would be appropriate if the manufacture and sale of non-compliant BS-VI vehicles was not permitted from April 1, 2020. Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, said an investment of around Rs 28,000 crore has been made on BS-VI fuel. If non-compliant BS-VI vehicles are allowed to be sold and manufactured from April 1, 2020, the environmental benefit of the cleaner fuel could be marginal, he added.
On the differential pricing of diesel for private vehicles, the apex court, on July 13, had asked the Centre to apprise it as to whether petrol and diesel can have an equal pricing for four-wheelers and private cars after the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) said pollution from diesel vehicles was a cause of concern. The court had suggested the government could contemplate fixing price of diesel and petrol on par for four wheelers, other than goods vehicles.
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The counsel, appearing for vehicle manufacturers, had earlier told the Supreme Court that BS-VI fuel, which is likely to be made available in the National Capital Region (NCR) from April 2019, would solve the problem of pollution from diesel vehicles. The Centre had earlier told the apex court that BS-VI fuel would be available by April 1, 2019, in 17 of the 23 districts in the NCR and Agra, and all attempts would be made to make it available in other metropolitan cities by April 1, 2020.
The government had also said reducing the price gap between petrol and diesel would not be "economically viable" and would lead to inflation. The court was hearing the petition that has raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR.