Adhering to the self-assumed deadline, India on Saturday moved 100% to BS IV fuel standard. Starting April 1, around 53,500 petrol pumps run by the state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs), apart from those run by private operators Reliance, Essar and BP, will sell the higher specification diesel and petrol across the country. To mark the occasion, the National Democratic Alliance government held a ceremony in Bhubaneswar in Odisha, the home state of petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, along with 12 other cities across the country, on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, Pradhan commended the efforts made by the OMCs to stick to the deadline and reiterated India’s commitment towards cleaner environment and lesser emission. “We have a commitment towards the global community and though we are not the major contributors towards emission, we will still do our part,” said Pradhan, adding the country is hopeful that OMCs will be able to move to BS-VI standard by April 2020. India will skip BS-V stage.
The BS IV norms were announced in April 2010. However, the complete switchover has taken almost six years. During 2010-2014, only 63 cities across the country moved to BS IV but since then the work was sped up to meet the target of April 1, 2017. If India achieves to move to BS VI by April 2017, it will be using the highest specification of fuel standard available across the country as of today. India first notified emission norms first in 1991, followed by 1996 and 1999 when BS norms were first announced.
Switching to BS IV, and ultimately BS VI, will help India to honour its COP21 commitment as vehicular pollution will be contained since BS IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, while BS V and BS VI grade fuel will have 10 ppm sulphur, a major pollutant.
The OMCs—IndianOil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum—have together invested around `30,000 crore to make their refineries BS IV standard and have rinsed their 6.79 lakh tonne pipeline capacity and 8.56 lakh tonne retail-outlet tanks, apart from 12 MT depot storage, cleansed for the upgraded fuel. These OMCs have 23 refineries with a capacity of around 230 MT.
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During the ceremony, Pradhan also awarded an LPG connection to a BPL woman, thus reaching the milestone of two crore connections being issued under the flagship Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana. The scheme envisages to provide five crore free LPG connections by May 2019. Commenting on the issue of tax benefit being withdrawn by the Odisha government earlier promised to Indian Oil for its `34,555-crore Paradip refinery, the oil minister urged the state government to cooperate on the issue as the project is likely to create employment in the state.
The matter is at present sub judice with the Orissa high court hearing the matter. The state government has decided to withdraw the tax benefit promised earlier as the refiner decided to ramp up the production from pre-agreed 9 MT to 15 MT.