The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on Monday told the Supreme Court that it would not allow sale and manufacturing of Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) non-compliant vehicles across the country from April 1, 2020, but registration of these vehicles can continue till May-end.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on Monday told the Supreme Court that it would not allow sale and manufacturing of Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) non-compliant vehicles across the country from April 1, 2020, but registration of these vehicles can continue till May-end. However, the ministry said it was not possible to segregate pricing of diesel or have differential pricing of the fuel for private vehicles.
Additional solicitor general ANS Nadkarni told a bench led by justice MB Lokur that investments of around `28,000 crore have been made on the BS-VI fuel. If non-compliant BS-VI vehicles are allowed to be sold and manufactured after April 1, 2020, the environmental benefit of the cleaner fuel could be marginal. However, he said time till June 2020 has been given for registration of BS-IV vehicles manufactured up to March 2020. “If BS-VI fuel is used in BS-IV vehicles, the environmental benefit of having a cleaner fuel would become marginal. After March 31, 2020, sale of non-compliant BS-VI vehicles should not be allowed,” the ASG said.
On the differential pricing of diesel for private vehicles, the apex court had last week 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 for concern. The court had suggested the government could contemplate fixing price of diesel and petrol on par for four-wheelers, other than goods vehicles.
The government had earlier said reducing the price gap between petrol and diesel would not be “economically viable” and would lead to inflation.
Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the matter, raised the issue of Delhi reeling under air pollution and said people were dying due to its ill effects. Earlier, she had argued that the real concern was pollution from diesel vehicles and also suggested levying an annual charge on diesel vehicles.
Meanwhile, the SIAM told the apex court that it was not feasible to manufacture 1,000 electric buses in a year to meet the Delhi government’s demand. It referred to a government notification of February 20 this year which said registration of private vehicles manufactured up to April 1, 2020 should be done till June 30, 2020.
Singh claimed the SIAM had earlier misled the court on electric vehicles and prototype of 23 such vehicles were shown during the auto show. However, the SIAM said that approval on prototypes of electric vehicles were pending with the government. During the hearing, the bench was told that Mercedes-Benz was already manufacturing BS-VI-compliant vehicles in India. She claimed automobile manufacturers like Tata, Maruti and Mahindra were exporting BS-VI vehicles to Europe, but for India, they have been seeking time.
The amicus curiae also suggested as to why manufacturers cannot roll out BS-VI vehicles earlier in the Delhi- National Capital Region (NCR) when BS-VI fuel would be made available by April 1, 2019 in 17 out of 23 districts in the NCR and Agra. The court was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist MC Mehta in 1985. A series of orders have been passed by the top court over the years to try and curb growing pollution in the NCR. Last year, it had banned sale and registration of vehicles that are not compliant with BS-IV norms after March 31, 2017.