Govt advances BS-VI fuel rollout by 2 yrs in Delhi to combat smog

New fuel will be cleaner by 80%, supply to start from April 2018

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Dharmendra Pradhan

The Central government advanced on Wednesday its deadline to roll out the much cleaner Bharat Stage (BS)-VI compliant auto fuel by April 1, 2018 — instead of April 1, 2020 — in Delhi to control severe air pollution levels in the city and its adjoining areas.

The next-generation fuel is equivalent to Euro-VI and will reduce sulphur emissions by 80%, compared to the existing BS-IV fuel standards. But the two-stage leapfrog to implement the world's toughest vehicle emission standards is also likely to spike prices of vehicles.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said that it took the decision in consultation with public oil marketing companies (OMCs) and has asked them to examine the possibility of introducing BS-VI fuel in the whole of National Capital Region — that also includes parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan — from April 1, 2019.

"Currently, we are supplying BS-IV fuel, and earlier we had decided to jump to BS-VI by 2020. But, looking at the current state of Delhi, the Centre has decided to provide BS-VI fuel by 2018. This will lead to a positive change," said Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

According to the ministry, the oil refineries would have to spend Rs 80,000 crore for the switch. Vehicular emissions and illegal crop stubble burning have been causing air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The Centre's decision was welcomed by environment groups such as Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Greenpeace and the automobile industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

"It is a good, proactive move and it will have its impact. If you are bringing clean fuel, it will bring optimal efficiency in existing emission systems. Though the full benefit will come only when the advanced emissions control system is introduced in vehicles," said CSE's Anumita Roychowdhury.

SIAM said the move will help the auto industry fully migrate to manufacturing only BS-VI vehicles from April 2020 when the cleaner fuel will be available across the country.

In April this year, the Supreme Court banned registration and sale of vehicles that were not BS-III compliant. But the automobile industry was saddled with a stock of 8 lakh BS-III vehicles worth Rs 20,000 crore. Auto makers sought a modification in the court order and were allowed to sell their stock.

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