From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : BS VI compliant fuels
Mains level : BS norms
Oil marketing companies have informed that there will definitely be a marginal increase in retail prices of the fuels from April 1. Starting April 1, Bharat Stage (BS) VI emission norms come into force. This will be an upgrade on the currently prevalent BS-IV and BS-III norms.
Why rise in Oil prices?
- In effect, as India moves up the BS scale, automobiles become cleaner and greener but fuel will go costly.
- Oil refiners have invested heavily to upgrade their refineries to produce the cleaner, BS-VI compliant fuel.
- The increase in the pump price of fuel will partially offset this cost that the oil marketing companies have paid.
- In effect, consumers will have to pay a little extra for auto fuel that is cleaner, and which, ultimately, is expected to lead to cleaner air.
The BS norms
- The BS emission standards are norms instituted by the Indian government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
- India has been following the European (Euro) emission norms, although with a time lag.
- The more stringent the BS norm, lower is the tolerance for pollutants in automobile tailpipe emissions. Lower tailpipe emissions are the function of both more efficient engines, and cleaner fuels.
How is BS-VI fuel different from BS-IV fuel?
- The main difference between BS-IV and BS-VI (which is comparable to Euro 6) is in the amount of sulphur in the fuel.
- The lower the sulphur, the cleaner the fuel, so BS-VI fuel is essentially low-sulphur diesel and petrol.
- BS-VI fuel is estimated to bring around an 80% reduction in sulphur content — from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm.
- Also NOx emissions from diesel cars are expected to come down by nearly 70% and, from cars with petrol engines, by 25%.
How will things change with the new fuels?
- Cleaner fuel alone will not make a dramatic difference to air pollution.
- For the full benefits to be experienced, the introduction of the higher grade fuel must go hand in hand with the rollout of BS-VI compliant vehicles as well.
- While automakers will sell only BS-VI vehicles from April 1, all BS-IV vehicles sold before that date will stay on the road for as long as their registration is valid.
- This, however, could be a concern because using BS-VI fuel in the current BS-IV engines (or conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel), may be both ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution, as well as damage the engine in the long run.
History of BS norms in India
- India introduced emission norms first in 1991, and tightened them in 1996, when most vehicle manufacturers had to incorporate technology upgrades such as catalytic converters to cut exhaust emissions.
- Fuel specifications based on environmental considerations were notified first in April 1996, to be implemented by 2000, and incorporated in BIS 2000 standards.
- Following the landmark Supreme Court order of April 1999, the Centre notified Bharat Stage-I (BIS 2000) and Bharat Stage-II norms, broadly equivalent to Euro I and Euro II respectively.
- BS-II was for the National Capital Region and other metros; BS-I for the rest of India.
- From April 2005, in line with the Auto Fuel Policy of 2003, BS-III and BS-II fuel quality norms came into existence for 13 major cities, and for the rest of the country respectively.
- From April 2010, BS-IV and BS-III norms were put in place in 13 major cities and the rest of India respectively.
- As per the Policy roadmap, BS-V and BS-VI norms were to be implemented from April 1, 2022, and April 1, 2024 respectively.
- But in November 2015, the Road Transport Ministry issued a draft notification advancing the implementation of BS-V norms for new four-wheel vehicle models to April 1, 2019, and for existing models to April 1, 2020.