Delhi air pollution: Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) deadline advanced by 2 years; automakers, oil companies face big challenge

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New Delhi | Published: November 16, 2017 5:58:43 AM

As the petroleum ministry on Wednesday advanced the deadline for switching over to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) from BS-IV compliance in the national capital territory by two years to April 1, 2018 in the wake of alarming levels of air pollution in the area, automakers seemed to brace up to the new challenge rather than resist it.

Delhi air pollution, Delhi air, air pollution, Delhi pollution, Delhi smog, smog in Delhi, Pollution in Delhi, Bharat Stage-VI, national capital territoryAccording to RC Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki, if the BS-VI fuel had to be available across the country by April 2020, as was already targeted, then oil companies had better increase supplies gradually because an overnight ramp-up might not be feasible. (Image: Reuters)

As the petroleum ministry on Wednesday advanced the deadline for switching over to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) from BS-IV compliance in the national capital territory by two years to April 1, 2018 in the wake of alarming levels of air pollution in the area, automakers seemed to brace up to the new challenge rather than resist it. According to RC Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki, if the BS-VI fuel had to be available across the country by April 2020, as was already targeted, then oil companies had better increase supplies gradually because an overnight ramp-up might not be feasible. Apart from Maruti, Honda Cars, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland said they have already started testing vehicles that are BS-VI compliant. On their part, oil marketing companies (OMCs) said they would be able to meet the demand for the low-emission fuels without much difficulty. “Taking into account the serious pollution levels in Delhi and adjoining areas, (the) petroleum ministry in consultation with public oil marketing companies has decided for preponement of BS-VI grade auto fuels in NCT of Delhi,” said a ministry release. The move is also in line with India’s commitment under the Paris Climate Change Agreement to reduce its vehicular emission as part of the effort to cut emission intensity of the gross domestic product.

The BS-IV norms were announced in April 2010 but it took nearly six years from then for the entire country to make the switch to these standards. During 2010-2014, only 63 cities across the country had moved to BS-IV but since then effort intensified to meet the pan-India target of April 1, 2017. By moving to BS-VI, the country will be using the highest specifications of fuel standard available in the world right now. India first notified its auto emission norms in 1991 and then revised these in 1996 and later in 1999 when the BS norms were announced. OMCs sell around 1,500 thousand tonnes of petrol and 1,600 thousand tonnes of diesel each year in Delhi, which has a vehicular population of a little more than 1 million, as per transport department data.

“The early introduction of BS-VI fuel (in NCT of Delhi) gives confidence to the auto industry that such fuel will be available across the country from April 1, 2020, when the industry will fully migrate to manufacturing only BS-VI compliant vehicles on a pan-India basis. Availability of BS-VI fuel in Delhi from April 2018 also gives an opportunity to the vehicle manufacturers in this region to test and validate the BS-VI vehicles,” said Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers president Abhay Firodia. MK Surana, chairman and managing director, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL), said: “Different companies will have to source BS-VI fuel from different refineries which are ready to produce higher-grade oil. Of course, it will require some effort to be ready with the fuel by the revised deadline.” HPCL will source the higher-grade fuel from its Bhatinda refinery. Bharat Petroleum Corporation will put its Bina refinery into use whereas Indian Oil Corporation’s Panipat and Mathura too can be ready with supplies for BS-VI -compliant fuel on time.

OMCs have already been making changes in its refineries to produce BS VI-compliant-fuel and were targeting September 2019 to be ready with the new infrastructure. The petroleum ministry has also asked OMCs to be assess if they can supply BS-VI fuel in the entire NCR by April 1, 2019. “We need to evaluate if that is possible given it is a huge area,” said Surana. “Before BS-VI cars can be used the fuel has to be available and this (the ministry’s move) is just a step in that direction. The production in the oil refineries also has to take place accordingly. If we have to meet the deadline by 2020 then it is imperative that the fuel is available across the country by then. It has to start from somewhere,” explained Bhargava. “We feel it is a step in the right direction to fight pollution in Delhi. However, as far as the automobile industry is concerned we are already working on a stretched deadline to launch BS-VI by 2020,” said Mahindra and Mahindra managing director Pawan Goenka.

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