New Delhi: As the government deadline of 1 April for switching to cleaner fuel approaches, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, or Siam, is concerned about a disruption in production if oil refining companies are not able to make the switch in time.
On 1 April, 11 cities plan to switch from Bharat Stage 3 (BS3) to BS4 emission norms while the rest of the country moves from BS2 to BS3.
But oil marketing companies have said that they’re not sure if they can meet the deadline.
Auto manufacturers across the country will be able to meet the deadline according to Siam.
“The issue is being discussed at an industry level. The extension required is to be confirmed,” said S.V. Narasimhan, director, finance at Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, the country’s largest refiner.
Both the auto industry and refiners are pushing for an extension and the matter is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the ministry of surface transport and ministry of petroleum and natural gas on 31 December.
During the last switch in April 2005—BS2 to BS3 for 11 cities and BS1 to BS2 for the rest of the country—refiners had been unable to supply diesel in some areas such as Madhya Pradesh, which had resulted in truck makers being forced to rejig production lines to supply trucks that ran on BS1-grade fuel. In all, production was disrupted for 15 days.
This time Siam says, it would like to be better prepared. “As an industry we need to know now,” said Pawan Goenka, president of Siam. While vehicles can run on inferior-grade fuel for a few cycles, there is no data to suggest they could do so for longer periods, according to Goenka.
However, not all manufacturers are comfortable with postponing production of BS3 and BS4-compliant models. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s largest car maker, says it would not be possible for it to postpone the switch.
“At this juncture it will beimpossible to take the clock back,” said I.V. Rao, managing executive officer, engineering, at Maruti Suzuki.
Utpal Bhaskar contributed to this story.