New Delhi: The central government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that BS-VI auto fuel can be introduced in most districts of the National Capital Region (NCR) as well as Agra by 1 April 2019.
On 26 March, the court had asked the centre to consider if it is possible to introduce the clean fuel across 13 leading metros by 1 April 2019.
After consulting fuel marketers, the government told the court that it can introduce the fuel in 17 out of 23 districts in NCR and Agra by that date, but not in the other 11 cities, because of non-availability of the product and logistics constraints.
The government consulted Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd, Reliance Industries Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd and Essar Oil Ltd before submitting the affidavit in court.
The 11 metros that will have to wait are Kanpur, Lucknow, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Sholapur.
On 26 March, the court had also asked the centre to look into diesel pricing so that its lower price does not encourage purchase of mid-segment passenger vehicles.
On this, the central government told a bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur that the centre would not be able to reduce the price gap since it would increase inflation.
At present, price difference between petrol and diesel is Rs9.02/litre in Delhi.
“Private vehicles make up 13% of the total sale of diesel vehicles and the remaining 87% is used by other segments. Agriculture segment also makes up for 13% of diesel sales and is sensitive to the price as it affects the income of farmers," the centre submitted.
If the gap between diesel and petrol prices is further reduced by increasing central excise duty and state value added tax (VAT) on diesel, it will have an adverse impact on inflation and impact all sectors, including agriculture and transportation, the central government said in a 13-page affidavit.
In April 2017, automobile manufacturers had informed the apex court about technological difficulties in converting vehicles to meet BS-VI emissions standards from 2019 in order to meet the April 2020 deadline.
The apex court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by environmentalist M.C. Mehta in 1985.
A series of orders have been passed by the court over the years to try and curb growing pollution in the national capital region centred on Delhi.
Last year, the court banned sale and registration of vehicles that do not comply with BS-IV norms after 31 March 2017