A Direct Shift from BS-1V to BS-VI by 2020: Issues & Challenges

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There are no two opinions about vehicular emissions contributing a major part in the growing air pollution and its debilitating effects on the changing climate. The fact that India has been a playing a proactive role in global efforts of combating climate change, the recent initiative of improving Bharat Stage Emission standards is a step in the positive direction towards air pollution control. However, the ambitious target of transitioning from BS IV to BS VI also comes with its own challenges. Undoubtedly, this makes it a hot topic for 2017 CSE Mains in the context of environment pollution and India’s commitments towards the same.


What are Bharat Stage Emissions Standards?

  1. These are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to normalize the productivity of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment.
  2. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests and Climate Change. Bharat Stage norms are based on European regulations.
  3. India has been following the European emission standards but with a five-year time lag.

Background of Emission standards in India:

Image result for bHARAT STAGE VI


Transition to BS VI from BS IV: A Step UP!

  1. The Centre’s decision to adopt Bharat Stage VI automotive fuels nationwide by April 1, 2020 is a key measure that can, if implemented properly, vastly improve air quality. It also fits in with commitments made at the Paris climate change conference.
  2. The BS-VI compliant fuels have sulphur concentration of as low as 10 parts per million as compared to 50 parts per million (ppm) in BS-IV fuels. This means a lower level of harmful emissions and reduced incidence of lung diseases. Higher sulphur results in high volumes of fine respirable particulates measuring 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) being generated in emissions.
  3. The switch to BS-VI norms will also reduce concentration of carbon monoxide, unburnt hydrocarbons, nitrous oxide and particulate matter from emissions.
  4. 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.
  5. The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia shows that poor air quality can be bad for business. Therefore, leapfrogging to BS VI can put India ahead in the race for investments too.

Apprehensions/ challenges in Implementation:

  1. Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has informed that the economic burden for moving to BS-VI emission norms for automobile manufacturers would be very significant as many new technologies would have to be developed and these technologies would have to be used in vehicles for meeting the requirement of BS-VI emission norms.
  2. The transition will involve overhauling the working dynamics of the automakers and will alter the cost structure forever.
  3. There’s a time crunch and firms would have to develop and optimize the Diesel Particulate Filter  and Selective Catalytic Reduction systems in parallel, instead of doing it sequentially
  4. To achieve a reduction in particulate matter by 82% and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 68%, auto makers need a combination of technologies—one is the diesel particulate filter (DPF), a device designed to remove diesel particulate matter, or soot, from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine.
  5. The shift to BS VI is set to shake up the auto component industry. He expects dominance of global auto component makers to increase, either directly or indirectly.
  6. In a cost-sensitive market like India, the challenge is to design a system for India that would not just meet the stringent particulate matter (PM) and NOx emissions of BS VI but also be cost-effective and robust to survive “the harsh use-case” conditions.
  7. Being a new technology, manpower needs to be skilled at large which is a mammoth challenge as claimed by industry experts.
  8. The climatic conditions, driving habits and road conditions, leave alone fuel conditions and maintenance practices, were significantly different in India compared to Europe.

Way forward:

BS VI is a challenge as well as an opportunity for the industry as none of the Euro 6 markets have bikes with small engines. Thus, though dirty air is a public emergency but it will not be easy to shift directly from BS-IV to BS-VI emission norms. It is important that the concerns of all concerned stakeholders are kept in mind to achieve the basic objective of a cleaner air and to fulfill our international obligations.

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