Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BSES), introduced in 2000, are emission standards that have been set up by the Central government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. The different norms are brought into force in accordance with the timeline and standards set up by the Central Pollution Control Board which comes under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The BSES norms are based on European regulations.
In 13 major cities, BS-IV emission standards were put in place in April 2010. BS-IV norms came into effect nationwide from April 2017. The implementation of the BS-V standard was earlier scheduled for 2019. This has now been skipped. BS-VI, originally proposed to come in by 2024 has been now advanced to April 2020, instead.
Why introduction of BS-VI emissions standards are important?
1. Cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world.
2. With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro-V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind.
3. The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia (which is currently grappling with haze) shows that poor air quality can be bad for business.
Why BS-VI compliant fuel makes less pollution than BS-IV?
The main difference between BS-IV and BS-VI (which is comparable to Euro 6) is in the amount of sulphur in the fuel. BS-VI fuel has 80% less sulphur content — from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm. BS-IV petrol and diesel have 50 ppm of sulphur, as compared to 150 ppm for petrol and 350 ppm for diesel under BS-III standards.
NOx emissions will also reduce by introduction of BS-VI compliant fuel. NOx emissions from diesel engine vehicles will reduce by around 70% and from petrol engine vehicles by around 25%.
What are the challenges in early implementation of BS-VI norms?
1. It took seven years for the entire country to shift to BS-IV. This time government seeks to skip BS-V and go directly to BS-VI. It has even preponed the year of implementation to 2020.
2. The introduction of BS-VI fuel will yield benefits only if it is done in conjunction with the rollout of BS-VI compliant vehicles. Using BS-VI fuel in BS-IV vehicles or, conversely, using BS-IV fuel in BS-VI engines may be ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution. The mismatch may even damage the engine in the long run.
3. Partial roll out of BS-IV grade fuel and vehicles in the 13 cities has inherent drawbacks. People preferred BS-III vehicles which were cheaper than BS-IV vehicles. BS-III vehicles could be registered outside the peripheries of designated BS-IV cities. Heavy vehicles such as buses and trucks had no choice. They were forced to stay on with BS-III engines because the fuel outside cities did not conform to BS-IV norms. These vehicles are major contributors to pollution.
4. The complete transition to BS-IV took from 2010 to April 2017, because oil refineries were unable to produce the BS-IV fuel in required quantities. Oil refineries made investment of around Rs 30,000 crore to produce BS-IV fuel. It is believed that the auto industry has made a similar investment. Oil firms will be required to invest another Rs 40,000 crore to upgrade to BS-VI. The automobile industry will require the investment of Rs 50,000 crore. Additional investments by automakers will inevitably raise the prices of vehicles.
5. BS-VI compliant diesel engines will require additional component namely diesel particulate filter which will increase the length of the bonnet. The length of the car determines the taxes levied on the car and thus, BS-VI compliant diesel cars will be costlier, which may hamper the sales of these vehicles.
6. Also, DPFs (diesel particulate filters) are difficult to be implemented in Indian low driving speed conditions. At low driving speeds, it is difficult to attain high temperatures of 600 degrees Celsius required to burn the soot in DPF. Consequently, car manufacturers would have to work at 400 degrees Celsius. Usually, diesel is injected to increase the temperature, but excess fuel in the DPF can lead to fire.
7. Additionally, BS-VI vehicles will be fitted with SCR (selective catalytic reduction) module. Its optimisation could take an estimated three-four years.
8. For automakers, the big hurdle in jumping directly from BS-IV to BS-VI norms lies in equipping cars with two key fitments, namely diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction and road-testing them within the time schedule. The vehicle has to be thoroughly tested. This would require validation tests over 6-7 lakh km, which may take up to four years.
Also read: Bharat Stage Norms, Why has Maruti decided to stop making diesel cars?, BS-VI emission norms for vehicles: So near and yet so far, here is why, Advancing BS-VI emission norms, Centre notified (BS) VI norms for vehicles