Air quality is an issue of social concern worldwide in the backdrop of rising industrial and vehicular air pollution. In Global Burden of Disease 2010 (GBD), Outdoor Air pollution is among top 10 risks worldwide and among the top five or six risks in the developing countries of Asia. The air quality level in India is also reached alarming stage and it requires some urgent measures at policy levels.

In view of the severe pollution issue, Government of India has decided to shift to Bharat Stage VI (is equivalent to Euro-VI) emission standard for various category vehicles by 2020 directly. This is a great move and showing the commitment of Government of India to curb air pollution. The government has decided to leapfrog directly from Euro IV emission norms for petrol and diesel to Euro VI standards. The BS-VI norms will be implemented for new vehicles by April 2020 and for existing vehicles by April 2021. 


Emission Standards - BS-I to BS-III

Vehicular emission norms in India was first introduced in 1991 and tightened thereafter in 1996, when most vehicle manufacturers had to incorporate technology up-gradation such as catalytic converter to reduce exhaust emission. This necessitated the use of lead free and low sulphur fuels. Initially, refineries were enjoined to supply lead free gasoline to National Capital Region (NCR) and major cities and subsequently in the rest of the country.

Fuel specifications based on environmental consideration were for the first time notified in the country by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in April 1996 for achievement by 2000. These norms were incorporated in the BIS 2000 standards.

  • Based on the Supreme Court order of April 1999, Ministry of Surface Transport (MoST) notified Bharat Stage-I (BIS 2000) and Bharat Stage-II vehicle emission norms broadly equivalent to Euro I and Euro II for introduction in entire India and NCR respectively.
  • In line with the Auto Fuel Policy (2003), starting from 2005, fuel conforming to BS-III norms was introduced in 13 major cities, while BS II fuel was made available elsewhere in the country and BS I quality fuel phased out.
  • From April 2010, BS-IV fuel was implemented in 13 major cities (Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Kanpur and Agra including Lucknow and Sholapur) and BS III fuel made available in the rest of the country from September 2010. BS IV has since been expanded to cover 26 cities. Besides this, MoP&NG has decided to expand BS IV auto fuels to 50 more cities by March 2015. 

Emission Standards - BS-IV to BS-V

  • In this way, the transition in the first phase scheduled for 1 April 2015 will cover the whole of North India – Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal, Haryana, Uttarakhand, western Uttar Pradesh and several bordering districts of Rajasthan. In the next phase scheduled for 1 April 2016, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha, Goa, several Union Territories and parts of Maharashtra will be converted entirely to BS-IV. Finally on 1 April 2017, the entire country will move to BS IV.
  • Then on April 2019, the whole of North India and on April 2020 the rest of the country will switch to BS-V automotive fuel and emission regime. 

India started very late but just took 11 years to introduce Euro IV (BS IV) Emission norms, compared to 18 years by EU. 

New Guidelines - BS-VI

Although the Auto Fuel Policy has recommended implementation of BS-VI norms by 2024. A draft notification by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) advanced the date to 1 April 2021. Currently, only 50 cities in India get BS-IV fuel, while the rest still use BS-III fuel. By switching to BS-VI, India will join the league of the US, Japan and the European Union, which follow Euro Stage VI emission norms. 

The Supreme Court had asked the government to implement BS-VI norms earlier than the April 2021 deadline fixed by the Union government in January 2016. Following the direction, the ministry decide to prepone the implementation of emission norms and specified mass emission standards (BS-VI) for various category vehicles including those with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,500 kg, manufactured on or after April 1, 2020 for all models.

Moving to BS-VI directly will require significant technological upgrades and investment. It is estimated the oil PSUs will invest INR 287 billion (US$ 4.4 billion) for the transition and auto companies may have to invest INR 500 billion (US$ 7.5 billion).