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Bharat Stage Emission Standards

Bharat stage emission standards (BSES) are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and Spark-ignition enginesequipment, including motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change.

The standards, based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000. Progressively stringent norms have been rolled out since then. All new vehicles manufactured after the implementation of the norms have to be compliant with the regulations. Since October 2010, Bharat Stage (BS) III norms have been enforced across the country. In 13 major cities, Bharat Stage IV emission norms have been in place since April 2010[3] and it has been enforced for entire country since April 2017. In 2016, the Indian government announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020.

The phasing out of 2-stroke engine for two wheelers, the cessation of production of Maruti 800 & introduction of electronic controls have been due to the regulations related to vehicular emissions.

While the norms help in bringing down pollution levels, it invariably results in increased vehicle cost due to the improved technology & higher fuel prices. However, this increase in private cost is offset by savings in health costs for the public, as there is lesser amount of disease causing particulate matter and pollution in the air. Exposure to air pollution can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, which is estimated to be the cause for 6.2 lakh early deaths in 2010, and the health cost of air pollution in India has been assessed at 3% of its GDP.

History of vehicular emission control in India

Vehicle emission norms were set for the first time in 1990’s when the government under the Supreme Court order introduced Euro norms in 1999. Later, it was replaced by Bharat Stage Emission standards. Under the Bharat Stage IV norms which are in turn based on Euro IV norms, Bharat Stage-IV , CO should be 1.0 (g/km) and HC+NOx (g/km) should be 0.18 (combined)1 as per CPCB.

The implementation has however suffered from certain limitations such as the need for retro fitting of catalytic converter and other devices on older systems in use. New vehicles and systems come with these devices but the bottleneck is that the process gets hampered in the presence of lead/sulphur. So to counter this, the fuel needs to have less of lead and sulphur. In India, this has been achieved by selling unleaded fuel and placing a limit on amount of sulphur.

Issues in implementation of BS-VI by 2020

The government, in a move to fight pollution, will implement Bharat Standard (BS)-VI emission norms by April 1, 2020. The Supreme Court has also stated its stand on the issue regularly. Pollution has been a major issue, especially in Delhi. The Government has decided that we it move to BS-VI norms across the country directly from BS-IV norms by April 1, 2020. The Petroleum Ministry would spend Rs.30,000 crore for upgrading refineries to implement the clean fuel technology. The ministry has urged automobile manufacturers, who opposed an early deadline to implement the norms due to financial burden, to co-operate.

The decision was taken after the Supreme Court pressed for implementing clean vehicular fuel norms soon amid concerns on rising air pollution in the country, especially in Delhi. BS-VI is the Indian equivalent of the Euro-VI norms followed globally.

The Supreme Court has asked the government to implement BS-VI norms earlier than the April 2021 deadline fixed by the Union government. The BS-VI norms will be implemented for new vehicles by April 2020 and for existing vehicles by April 2021. At present, BS-IV auto fuels are being supplied in over 30 cities while the rest of the country has BS-III fuels.

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