Let me start with a disclaimer – this piece here is a bit of a refresher course for those of you who are aware of the Bharat Stage norms, and a piece of information for those of you who don’t. The Bharat Stage (BS) emission standards are norms introduced by the government of India to define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions from internal combustion engine equipments. Introduced in the year 2000, these standards are loosely based on European regulations.
The first version of the regulation was introduced as ‘India 2000’ and was later dubbed as ‘Bharat Stage’. After the Year 2000 edition, the Bharat Stage II (BS-II) was brought into action in 2001 for a few cities. A few years later it was standardized nationwide. Further, with progressive stringent norms, the BS-III and BS-IV were instated.
Interestingly, the Central Government has decided to not to introduce the fifth version of the norms. Maybe the folks out there think that following a serial order is too mainstream, therefore the BS-V will be skipped, making way for the BS-VI to be directly put into operation by 2020. Earlier it was planned that the BS–V norms were to be implemented from April 1, 2022, and BS-VI from 1 April 2024.
The leapfrog decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting hosted by Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also attended the meet. After the meeting, Nitin Gadkari said that the decision of skipping BS VI emission norms is a bold and historic decision and a commitment to (the) environment. All the other ministries have expressed support for the resolution. The decision might be eligible for historic entitlement, but the road to activate it is going to be quite bumpy. BS-IV has been avowed only for a few cities as of now, and its nationwide standardization is scheduled by April 2017. The industry is already struggling to implement the BS-IV norms in a timely manner, and now an earlier date for implementing the BS-VI norms will put further pressure on the industry as a whole.
The decision has rattled the auto and hydrocarbon industries. Car-makers will have to heavily invest to make their vehicles BS-VI ready, which will consequently result in a substantial price hike for their products. Also the Oil refineries will have to spend around INR 50,000 crore for upgrades in order to produce BS-VI compliant fuel. At the moment the refineries will be able to supply BS-IV fuel to the entire country only by next year. This refinery upgrade will prove to be a business opportunity for technology suppliers.
The Government of India has taken the pollution control movement quite seriously. The topical odd-even formula is currently in action in the polluted capital, Delhi. The scheme has caused inconvenience for some, but is reportedly taking a good shape. There are plans of extending the formula for a week if the analysed pollution data shows positive results. The decision of putting BS-VI into action sooner than planned will definitely be a tough task but if conformed aptly, India will soon get a cleaner air to breathe.