Phasing out BS-IV
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
- Indigenization of technology and developing new technology
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
In News: As per the SC, No Bharat Stage-IV vehicle would be sold or registered in India from April 1, 2020.
In response to: The Centre and the automobile manufacturers’ request for a three-month and six-month extension of the deadline so that the latter can sell their non-BS-VI vehicles.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had justified the grace period to sell their vehicles contending that India was jumping from BS-IV emission norms to BS-VI within a short span of time. The manufacturers had argued that they were allowed to manufacture BS-IV vehicles till March 31, 2020, and they should be granted reasonable time to sell their stock. Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, who had appeared for the Centre, had told the apex court that the government considered it fit to give three and six months to the manufacturers to sell their stock of BS-IV vehicles after April 1, 2020.
Logic behind the Judgement:
- Any extension of time in introducing the new norms which is not absolutely necessary adversely impacts the health of the citizens. There is sufficient time for the manufacturers to change over to the new system, and therefore, there is no reason why they should be given a window of three or six months for sale of accumulated vehicles. Every vehicle sold after the cut-off date of April 1, 2020, is bound to cause more pollution and, therefore, the manufacturers cannot be permitted to sell any non-BS-VI compliant vehicle on or after April 1, 2020.
- Rejecting the manufacturers’ plea that there were multiple sources of pollution and vehicles only contribute 2%, the judgement emphasised on no step being too small when it comes to fighting pollution. Small steps to reduce pollution when taken together will lead to large scale reduction in pollution.
- The right to life, as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, includes the right of a citizen to live in a clean environment. If there is a conflict between health and wealth, obviously, health will have to be given precedence. When we are concerned with the health of not one citizen but the entire citizenry, including the future citizens of the country, the larger public interest has to outweigh the much smaller pecuniary interest of the industry, in this case the automobile industry, especially when the entire wherewithal to introduce the cleaner technology exists.
- If we were to factor only economics even then it makes no sense to have more polluting vehicles on the roads. The effect of pollution on the environment and health is so huge that it cannot be compensated in the marginal extra profits that the manufacturers might make. The amount spent on countering the ills of pollution such as polluted air, damaged lungs and the cost of healthcare far outweigh the profits earned.
What are Bharat stage emission norms: Introduced in the year 2000, the Bharat norms are emission control standards put in place by the government to keep a check on air pollution. Based on the European regulations (Euro norms), these standards set specifications/limits for the release of air pollutants from equipment using internal combustion engines, including vehicles. Typically, the higher the stage, the more stringent the norms.
- The BS IV norms have been enforced across the country since April 2017.
- 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 2020, instead.
So what differentiates the BS VI standard from BS IV?
It’s the introduction of advanced technologies to ensure pollutants emitted by the vehicles are reduced and comply with the specified limits. It will also mean a number of changes to be made in the engine systems.
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 is estimated to bring around an 80% reduction in sulphur content — from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm. Also, according to analysts, NOx emissions from diesel cars are expected to come down by nearly 70% and, from cars with petrol engines, by 25%.
Issues for the common man: On the flip side, the use of new technology means higher costs for auto makers. This could be passed on to buyers. Oil refiners too have had big capital outlays to produce superior quality fuel under BS IV. So, fuel bills could rise too.
Let us think:
Do we as a society or as manufacturers of automobiles have a right to manufacture more polluting vehicles when we have the technology to manufacture less polluting vehicles?
The answer is obviously a big NO.
Connecting the dots:
- What are BS emission norms? Critically examine the current issues surrounding it.