Uncertainty persists over emission norms

Uncertainty persists over emission norms

Mumbai: With less than a fortnight left for India to upgrade to stricter vehicular emission norms, doubts about implementation as well as pricing abound.

Auto makers have already launched vehicles that comply with the new Euro 4 standards for 13 cities, but nationwide availability remains a concern. The supply of Euro 3 fuel in other cities stipulated by the new norms is also uncertain.

Oil marketing companies such as Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), among others, are seeking an extension of the 1 April deadline for implementing the new norms, said a BPCL spokesperson, as this would allow them to phase in the new fuel.

“We shall be filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court in the next few days seeking permission for a phased availability of Euro 3 fuel," said the spokesman, declining to be named.

According to the vehicular emission roadmap laid out by the R. A. Mashelkar panel, new cars registered in 13 Indian cities are required to meet Euro 4 norms effective April, while those in other cities must upgrade to Euro 3 from Euro 2. Two-wheelers must meet Bharat Stage 3 levels.

Oil firms say they are ready to supply Euro 4 fuel in 13 cities, but will not be able to supply Euro 3 fuel to other areas by the deadline. To do so, they will need to recall the Euro 2 fuel that’s been supplied.

While the switch to Euro 4 will take place as per the 1 April deadline mandated by the apex court, the move to Euro 3 will be completed in phases till October. An affidavit will be filed in the Supreme Court stating the same, a senior Indian Oil executive, who did not want to be named, told Mint last month.

Newer-grade fuels are also likely to cost more than the previous versions.

A spokesperson for BPCL said the “pricing issue (is) undecided". It is not clear whether the costs will be passed on to consumers, which will act as a de facto fuel price hike. On Monday, headline inflation for February, at 9.89%, was in almost double digits, the highest in 16 months. Dearer fuel could send inflation further up.

Auto makers also prefer a phased availability of Euro 3 compliant vehicles instead of strictly sticking to the 1 April deadline. Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers director Dilip Chenoy said, “Given the complexity of the roll out, we have requested that Euro 3 fuel be available in the entire country by October 2010."

The move to Euro 4 in 13 cities won’t be affected, he said.

The non-availability of Euro 3 fuel could damage Euro 4 compliant vehicles in regions where they will be forced to run on Euro 2 fuel. At 500 part per million (ppm), Euro 2 fuel has a 10-fold higher sulphur content in both diesel and petrol than the newest standards.

“This will have a corrosive impact on the emission control devices fitted in Euro 4 cars," said Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director at the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.‘