India has moved to Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) norms despite a countrywide lockdown. Despite the constraints in movement and slump in demand, India maintained the rollout date of April 1. Oil companies, in fact, started selling the ultra-clean fuel around 10-12 days ago.
As mentioned in a report in Times of India, Sanjiv Singh, Chairman of Indian Oil said that the April 1 deadline for the countrywide switch is intact. "We started selling these fuels across the country 10-12 days ago," he told the daily.
MK Surana, Chairman of Hindustan Petroleum said that the oil industry is braving all odds to supply the fuel for vehicles that are carrying essential goods. He added that they are running their refineries in such a manner that the BS-VI deadline is met. Bharat Petroleum said that all of their outlets have become BS-VI compliant.
Sanjiv Singh said that all public companies managed to switch to BS-VI in just three years, with no disruption and an estimated cost of Rs 35,000 crore.
WHAT IS BS-VI
Bharat stage emission standards are emission norms introduced by the Indian government. These norms aim to regulate output of air pollutants and strive for cleaner emission. The timeline of the Bharat stage emission norms are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Environment Ministry. The norms are in line with European regulations and were first introduced in the year 2000.
In 2016, the Narendra Modi government decided to skip BS-V norms and straight up leapfrog to BS-VI from BS-IV norms. First switching to BS-V would have been a longer process and the industry would have had to make investments twice, as mentioned by Singh. Reportedly, the BS-VI norms have in some respects better emission parameters than CNG.
The petrol and diesel under BS-VI norms contain just 10 parts per million (ppm) sulphur. The NOx emissions will be slashed by 25 per cent in petrol cars and by 70 per cent in diesel cars.
Delhi adapted to BS-VI norms a year before the deadline, while NCR switched last October.
IMPACT ON AUTO INDUSTRY
The auto industry that has been hit with an economic slowdown, coronavirus lockdown and the BS-VI rollout has a substantial inventory of unsold BS-IV vehicles. Companies and dealers also filed a petition with the Supreme Court through the lobby group Federation of Automobile Dealers to delay the rollout of BS-VI. This petition came on the back of a 2018 order that asked vehicle manufacturers to make and sell only BS-VI vehicles from April 1. Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had also filed a petition in the apex court to direct the government to allow registration of BS-IV vehicles till March 31.