A statement released by the government has just declared 2019 to be the year from which the new, Bharat Stage-V (BS-V) vehicle emission norms shall come into effect. It is further learned that BS-VI norms are expected to be rolled out sometime in 2023 and not before. With this, the oil-ministry’s push towards skipping directly from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) has been quietly retired.
The reasons behind these developments are most interesting. The natural eye of suspicion would land upon the oil refiners, but it isn’t quite so. In-fact, refiners were on-board with the oil-ministry’s idea of skipping emissions standards stages and making the leap to BS-VI. Such a move was preferable as the costs incurred in switching from BS-IV to BS-VI were more or less the same as those involved in moving from BS-IV to BS-V. Moreover, skipping stages was indeed cost-feasible as refiners would not have to invest twice as they shall now have to do, as India first switches to BS-V in 2019 and then to BS-VI in 2023. However, it was the automotive manufacturers who proved to be the spanner in the works. They voiced their opinion that the investment costs in shifting from BS-IV to BS-VI would put undue strain on them. Lobbying through the heavy industries and road transport ministries, the automotive manufacturers have won their battle. This at the price of the country losing war against rising green house gases through vehicular emissions.
With BS-V roll-out all but set in stone for 2019, instead of the earlier planned time-frame of 2020-21, and BS-VI for 2023-24, it does appear that the country is on-track to achieving the objectives and timelines laid out in the ‘Auto Fuel Vision and Policy, 2025’.