The Centre has decided to introduce the cleanest, Bharat Stage-VI compliant fuel in Delhi by 1 Apr'18, two years earlier than planned, in a bid to reduce vehicular pollution.
The auto industry, despite concerns, has welcomed the government's move to enable early availability of BS-VI fuel.
Some are worried whether sufficient quantity of fuel will be supplied by oil marketing companies.
India's auto industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world, which contributes to about 7.5% of the country's GDP. Auto industry body, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), said the Union government's move was a "step in the right direction".
SIAM said India's move is similar to that of the developed nations that introduce higher grade fuel before introducing higher vehicular emission standards.
SIAM President Dr. Abhay Firodia said early availability (2018 in Delhi) of BS-VI fuel would boost auto sector's confidence that the fuel will be available by 1 April 2020, when it plans to manufacture only BS-VI compliant vehicles across India.
SIAM President Dr. Abhay Firodia stated: "Use of BS-VI fuel with lower sulfur content may also improve the particulate emissions from the existing fleet of vehicles, which are presently plying in the National Capital to some extent."
Pawan Goenka, Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, said that the Centre has taken the right decision to advance the availability of BS-VI fuel to reduce pollution in Delhi.
However, he also said that he doesn't feel that many mainstream players would be able to launch multiple models of BS-VI compliant vehicles in the next four months, by 1 Apr'18.
Goenka said launching BS-VI vehicles just for Delhi isn't feasible; BS-VI fuel wouldn't be available in other cities and such vehicles can't run on BS-IV fuel. He added, "We at Mahindra are working on all our ongoing projects with the April 2020 deadline in mind."
Meanwhile, Grant Thornton India Partner, V Sridhar, said that early availability of BS-VI fuel much ahead of the April 2020 deadline, though only in Delhi, is like a huge challenge for oil marketing companies as well as the government itself.
However, he also said, "Questions like whether this will change Delhi atmosphere is irrelevant since small steps lead to a giant leap."
In 2000, the government introduced Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BSES) to regulate air-pollutant emissions from equipment using internal combustion and spark-ignition engines, like automobiles.
Once implemented, automakers need to comply with the Bharat Stage norms, which set limits for pollutant emissions.
They are represented as BS (Bharat Stage) followed by a number indicating the stage; higher the number, the more stringent the emission norms.
After introducing BSES, the government subsequently rolled out more stringent norms. BS-III norms were enforced across India in Oct'10.
However, the BS-IV norms were introduced first in 13 major cities in Apr'10. Later, BS-IV norms were adopted by the entire country in Apr'17.
In 2016, the Centre said India would skip BS-V norms and directly adopt BS-VI regulations by April 2020.
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