Emission panel for pan-India shift to Bharat Stage V fuel by 2020

Chaudhuri panel report submitted even as the WHO study dubbed Delhi the world’s most polluted city


A file photo of a Hyundai factory. Photo: Mint
A file photo of a Hyundai factory. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: A panel on automobile fuel emissions standards has recommended that the government introduce the stricter Bharat Stage V emission norms across India by 2020 to curb growing air pollution in the country, which is home to 13 of the dirtiest 20 cities, according to a World Health Organisation study.

Planning Commission member Saumitra Chaudhuri, who heads the panel to draw up India’s auto fuel emissions standards road map till 2025, said that oil refineries, as a first step, will be required to stop production of the Bharat Stage III fuel and move to Bharat Stage IV by January 2017. Adoption of Bharat Stage IV fuel in India is restricted to just 30 cities after being introduced in 2010.

The panel, which was set up in December 2012 to revise India’s auto fuel emissions standards, submitted its report to the petroleum ministry on 3 May.

India is almost a decade behind developing countries such as Turkey and Brazil in introducing cleaner-burning fuel, Bloomberg News reported in April.

The Chaudhuri panel’s report was submitted even as the WHO study dubbed Delhi the world’s most polluted city. While the WHO study has been challenged by the government, automobile fuel emissions are seen as a leading cause for detriorating air quality.

In 2013, the Global Burden of Disease study said that outdoor air pollution was the fifth-largest killer in India and around 620,000 early deaths occurred from air pollution-related diseases in 2010.

Bharat Stage V standard specifies a maximum of 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur in fuel as against 50 ppm in Bharat Stage IV and Bharat Stage III 150 ppm. Sulphur in fuel makes it dirtier and lowers the efficiency of catalytic converters which control emissions.

To meet the stricter fuel emissions standard, refiners will have to spend an estimated Rs.80,000 crore, while auto makers will also have to make vehicles suited to the higher quality fuel.

The recommendations, if accepted, may lead to an increase in the price of the older Stage III fuel, as the committee has recommended closing the 75 paisa price gap between Stage III and IV fuel.

The panel has also suggested that the difference in excise duty on standard and premium fuel be removed. Currently, the cleaner branded fuel is taxed at a higher rate.

Two- and three-wheeler makers have been given an additional two years to meet Bharat Stage IV norms, Chaudhuri said.

“The only thing that we wanted was to move straight away to higher fuel emission norms and that has been taken care of by the panel,” said Vishnu Mathur, director general of lobby group Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association. “Although we would have liked these recommendations to be applicable earlier than 2020, you need to give time to firms to recover the investments, which is fair.”

In a statement issued earlier this week, Delhi-based not-for-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said Euro VI standards should be introduced in the county by 2020-21 to address diesel toxicity.

If the report is accepted by the new government, most of north India will introduce Bharat Stage IV by 1 April 2015. Other regions, including Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Goa and Union Territories in western India, will shift by 1 April 2016. The panel has recommended that all of north India will then shift to Bharat Stage V by 1 April 2019.

More From Livemint