Stricter vehicle emission norms likely to be put off

The union government's attempt to tackle air pollution by implementing stricter vehicular emission standards is facing a delay due to unavailability of suitable fuel to support cleaner technology.

The government is now considering postponing the implementation of Euro-V norms by a year to 2020 and Euro-VI norms to 2022, government officials said. A final decision in this regard will be taken in the next few days.

An inter-ministerial meeting attended by officials of the ministries of road transport and highways, Petroleum, Heavy Industries and Environment, was held on Wednesday. A consensus couldn't be arrived at the meeting chaired by Road Transport and Highways Secretary, Vijay Chibber.

Sources said Ministry of Petroleum officials expressed their inability to comply with the early deadline to implement the clean fuel technology which the government had earlier mooted.

The Ministry of road transport and highways was pushing to implement the clean fuel technology by the deadline of 2019 but the ministry of petroleum wasn't ready to implement the norms.

''We are awaiting a response from the petroleum ministry. The officials wanted the BS-V (Bharat Stage) norms to be postponed to 2020 as they said they are not ready to supply these fuels,'' said sources present in the meeting.

Another senior government official said there is a plan to implement BS-V norms from 2020 and BS-VI norms from 2022 for all vehicles instead of separate deadlines for new and old vehicles. ''We may merge the separate deadlines earlier proposed for new and existing vehicles. The BS-V norms will be effective from 2020 for all vehicles and BS-VI norms from 2022,'' the official said.

According to the draft notification issued by ministry of road Ttransport and highways in November, the Euro-V and Euro-VI norms for new vehicles was to be introduced from 2019 and 2021 respectively. The existing vehicles need to switch to Euro-V and Euro-VI norms from April 1, 2020 and April 1, 2022 respectively.

The government's earlier road map had proposed implementing BS-V norms from 1 April 2022 and BS-VI from 1 April 2024.

''In view of deteriorating air quality, it is agreed to take on a more challenging task of compressing the timelines,'' Minister of State Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises G M Siddeshwara, had said in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question earlier this month.

However, sources said the Ministry of Heavy Industries officials present in the meeting said they wanted to implement BS-V norms by 2020.

The automobile industry said the delay in implementing clean fuel standards is not a good sign.

''As far as the industry is concerned, the situation hasn't changed much with this proposal. We had welcomed the implementation of BS-V norms by 2019. We will be delaying cleaner vehicles by one year which is not a good situation to be in,'' said K KGandhi, executive director (tech), Society of Indian Automobiles Manufacturers.

There has been growing debate regarding rising air pollution due to vehicles. The Supreme Court recently banned the registration of diesel cars and SUVs with 2000 cc or higher engine capacitiy in the Delhi and the National Capital Region till 31 March 2016.

At present, BS-IV auto fuels are being supplied in over 30 cities, and the rest of the country has BS-III fuels.