On 29 March 2017, the Supreme Court announced the sale of BS-III emission norm compliant vehicles would be banned from 1 April 2017, claiming that the health of the citizens was more important than commercial interests of automobile manufacturers.
BS or Bharat Stage norms are standards for vehicular emissions. It sets the limits for the permissible level of pollutants that are emitted out of the exhaust pipes of motor vehicles. The norms are set with the aim to monitor air pollution and emissions that lead to global warming. The standards are based on European regulations that were introduced in the year 2000.
India 2000 Euro 1
Bharat Stage II Euro 2
Bharat Stage III Euro 3
Bharat Stage IV Euro 4
Bharat Stage V Euro 5
Bharat Stage VI Euro 6
The Need for Emission Norms
According to the data published by the World Health Organization in May 2016, India has the most polluted cities in the world. The report reveals that 30 Indian cities figure in the Top 100 Most Polluted Global Cities (in terms of particulate matter PM10), and that air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India.
Vehicles are major contributors to air pollution, which raises the need to reduce vehicular emissions continuously. This fact is recognized by the Indian Automotive Industry that is always striving to control emissions as per the roadmap laid down by the Auto Fuel Policy, and is also proactively developing environmental friendly technologies. India currently has some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles globally.
History and Progress
The first stages of mass emission norms were introduced in India in 1991 for petrol vehicles and in 1992 for diesel vehicles. This was followed by mandatory installation of catalytic converters from April 1995 in new petrol passenger cars sold in four metros, which included Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. This eventually resulted in the supply and availability of ULP (Unleaded Petrol) throughout the country.
In the year 2000, passenger cars and commercial vehicles met the Euro 1 (also called India 2000) norms. Further, Euro II that is equivalent to BS-II norms, were enforced from the year 2001 onwards in the same four metro cities.
In August 2002, the first Auto Fuel Policy was announced which laid down the Emission and Fuel Roadmap until the year 2010. Following this roadmap, four-wheeled vehicles moved to BS-III emission norms in 13 metro cities from April 2005, while the rest of the country moved to BS-II norms.
Moreover, BS-IV emission norms were implemented for 13 metro cities in April 2010, while rest of the country moved to BS-III norms. However, BS-IV was then extended to 20 additional cities from October 2014 onwards.
Now, following the Supreme Court mandate, the BS-IV norms have will be extended across the country from 1 April 2017.
Expected Benefits: Implementation of BS-IV Norms in India
Center for Science and Environment, which is a Delhi-based think-tank, estimates that the transition will lead to a substantial decrease in PM (Particulate Matter) emissions. Emissions are estimated to reduce by almost 80% from new trucks and 50% from cars. Further, emissions of hydrocarbon and Nitrogen oxides is expected to reduce by 40% to 80%, depending on engine size.
The reduction in PM emission levels would be particularly beneficial, as it has been linked to rising incidence of cancer, especially lung cancer. Continuous exposure to high concentrations of small particulates can lead to premature deaths. In fact, according to the State of Global Air Report 2017, over one lakh premature deaths in India in 2015 can be attributed to PM 2.5 pollution. Moreover, continuous exposure to PM emissions can negatively affect the respiratory tract and impair the lung function.
The reduction of other pollutants also will help reduce health risks. Long-term exposure to carbon dioxide emissions can prevent oxygen transfer and result in increased headaches and nausea. Short-term exposure to hydrocarbon emissions may lead to headaches, vomiting and disorientation. Further, persistent exposure to Nitrogen Oxide can cause nose and eye irritation as well damage the lung tissue.
Comparison between Bharat Stage and Euro Norms
The BS norms have been designed to accommodate specific requirements of various Indian conditions. The major differences between the BS and Euro norms lie in environmental and geographical requirements, even though the emission standards are the same.
For example, Euro III is tested at sub-zero temperatures in various European countries. However, in India, where the average annual temperature is between 24°C and 28°C, the test is exempted.
Further major difference is the maximum speed at which the vehicle is tested. A speed limit of 90 km/hour is set for BS-III, while a speed limit of 120 km/hour is set for Euro III, keeping emission limits the same in both cases.
Moreover, the test procedures have other finer points of differences too. For example, the mass emission test measurements done in g/km on a chassis dynamometer requires a loading of 100 kg weight in addition to the unloaded car weight in Europe, for Euro 3 norms. Whereas, in India, BS-III norms (equivalent to Euro 3), require an extra loading of 150 kg weight to achieve the required inertia weight, majorly because of the road conditions in the country.
Lag behind Developed Countries’ Standards
There are various criticisms about the fact that the Indian norms lag behind the norms of various developed nations. While India implemented BS-III emission norms nationwide only in 2010, other developed nations had moved onto Euro 4 (January 2005), Euro 5 (September 2009) and Euro 6 (September 2014). With each progression, the emission norms got stricter.
As of the year 2014, only a few cities of India had implemented Euro IV or BS-IV norms, and hence, are nine years behind Europe, while the rest of the country was at BS-III standard fuel and vehicles, which is 14 years behind Europe.
Concerns of BS-IV implementation
SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers), a group consisting of 48 major automakers have expressed their concern on this ban, as they have estimated a stock of almost 8 lakh BS III vehicles worth approximately Rs. 12,000 crore would remain unsold.
Moreover, BS-IV compliant vehicles are less polluting than BS-III vehicles, as the mandate ensures better technology, which hence, means that the BS-IV vehicles will be more costly than BS-III vehicles for consumers. Further, to implement this successfully, the BS-IV compliant fuel will be available across the nation, as ensured by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, which will again increase costs for consumers (as it is of a better quality than BS-III).
As reported by Hindustan Times, the average price increase of vehicles is expected to be approximately 10%, which will vary for different companies, models and segments. Some models may be launched with revised engines to comply with the new norms. The price of fuel is also expected to rise marginally.
In January 2016, the government has announced that India will be skipping BS V norms and enforcing BS VI norms starting 2020.
Regional President (Diesel Systems) of Bosch, Friedrich Boecking had commented, “You require four years to graduate from one stage to another. But, if you want to skip one stage, you may want to give at least six years to do that.” However, the reality is that policymakers are highly concerned about the high levels of vehicular pollution in major Indian cities.
The concerns have manifested with previous initiatives such as odd-even scheme, events like “No Car” days, and Supreme Court ban on fresh registration of diesel vehicles above engine displacement of 2000 cc in Delhi NCR. The Paris Climate Agreement, which was signed by India, will also take effect by the year 2020.
Hence, it is in the best interest of automobile manufacturers to start gearing up for these required investments complying with stricter emission standards.
Even though the prices of vehicles and fuel may rise, the overall resulting health benefits are expected to far outweigh the price concerns.
Moreover, this move shall go a long way in placing India at par with emission standards of developed countries and help reduce the pollution and health concerns significantly.
The Logical Indian community hopes to see a more supportive approach by both the automobile manufacturers as well as consumers, to implement these policies successfully, which will be beneficial to the nation in the long-run, including their own health benefits.