New Delhi, Nov 16: As Delhi is grappling with smog crisis since last week, the ministry of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) on Wednesday announced the two-year advancement of the introduction of Bharat Stage VI fuel norms from April 1, 2018, in the national capital.
The decision by the ministry has been lauded by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a public interest research and advocacy organisation that promotes environmentally sound and equitable development strategies.
The CSE in a press release praised the ministry for proactively responding to the deadly smog crisis in Delhi. The introduction of BSVI fuel norms in the national capital will bring down sulphur content in the air by five times from the current BSIV levels-- this is a whopping 80 percent reduction.
"This will improve emissions from the existing fleet, even from the older vehicles on roads, while allowing more advanced emissions control systems to be fitted in BSVI vehicles when they begin to roll," stated the CSE press release.
However, the full advantage of this move will be possible only when vehicle technology moves to BSVI.
"The CSE believes that industry must also step up its act and show leadership to fast forward the change. The public health crisis caused by foul and toxic air needs such proactive leadership and drastic measures that will bring long-term gain. We cannot any more work with small and incremental steps to bring us the kind of air quality benefits that we need" said Sunita Narain, director general, the CSE.
The BSVI fuel norms will be implemented in the rest of country from April 2020. However, the CSE criticised the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEFCC) for its lackadaisical attitude towards high air pollution levels in Delhi.
"Ironically, this leadership has come from the MoPNG and not from the MoEFCC that remains the nodal ministry for environmental regulations," stated the press release.
In fact, the CSE points out that the MoEFCC has given repeated affidavit to the Supreme Court contesting the provision of the Comprehensive Action Plan on clean air submitted by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) that has asked industry to both manufacture and sell BSVI models from April 1, 2020.
The MoEFCC has mentioned in its affidavit that "the technical challenges of leapfrogging directly from BSIV to BSVI are far more complex and challenging. If the date shifts to become the date of registration then it would actually reduce the time available to industry for manufacturing to a mere two years or so although BSVI fuel will not be available across the country till April 1, 2020".
"Even though the full air quality gains will come when vehicles also move to BSVI emissions standards, the current move should not be underestimated in a choking city like Delhi.
"With substantially cleaner fuel emissions, control system in on-road fleet will improve and give some emissions benefits" said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, the CSE, and head of the organisation's air pollution campaign.
"But what is clear is that Delhi and the rest of India's choking cities will win this battle against the smog with decisive leadership, which pushes the envelope for big change. This is one step in this direction," she added.