PTI Photo by Vijay Verma
PTI Photo by Vijay Verma

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday advanced the introduction of ultra-clean Euro-VI grade petrol and diesel in the national capital by two years to April 2018, in a bid to fight air pollution that has reached alarming levels.

India had in 2015 decided to leapfrog straight to Euro-VI grade petrol and diesel from April 2020.  While the deadline for the rest of the country stands, for the national capital, which is choking on thick toxic smog, the deadline has been preponed to April 2018.

However, considering that India is still stuck with Euro-1V norms, the jump to Euro VI in Delhi is fraught with difficulties. For one, launching these new cars with the new technology by 2018 might be a little difficult, even on a limited scale in the national capital. At best, the advancement will give them the confidence to make investments in manufacturing such vehicles.

Also, only a couple of new refineries are capable of producing Euro-VI grade fuel, which contains 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur, as against 50 ppm in Euro-IV fuels.

Incidentally, Delhi consumed 906,000 tonnes of petrol and 1.26 million tonnes of diesel in 2016-17 and meeting that requirement from April next year would be a challenge – if the fuel has to be of grade VI. Also, unless the ultra-clean fuel is available in the entire NCR region — which includes adjoining cities of Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad – the purpose of the bold initiative will be defeated. The deadline for the NCR region is now April 2019.

The introduction of Euro-VI grade fuel is expected to help mitigate the problem of air pollution in NCT of Delhi and surrounding areas, the Petroleum Minister’s statement said.

Oil refineries will also need to invest Rs 28,000 crore in upgrading petrol and diesel quality to meet cleaner fuel specifications by 2020.  Abhay Firodia, the President of the Society of Automotive Manufacturers, said: “The early introduction of BS VI fuel gives confidence to the auto Industry that it will be available across the country from 1st April 2020, when the Auto Industry will fully migrate to manufacturing only BS VI compliant vehicles on a pan India basis.’’

Availability of BS VI fuel in Delhi from April 2018 also gives an opportunity to the vehicle manufacturers in this region to test and validate the BS VI vehicles being developed by the auto industry, so as to be fully ready for the April 2020 deadline, he said.

Mahindra & Mahindra Managing Director Pawan Goenka said it was unlikely that automobile manufacturers would be able to bring Euro-VI vehicles by next year. “I don’t foresee any mainline player with multiple models being able to launch complete portfolio of BS VI compliant vehicles by April 2018,” he said.

Oil refineries had previously upgraded technology and invested over Rs 55,000 crore for production and supply of BS —III/IV fuels.

WILL THE SEEMINGLY BOLD STEP GO UP IN SMOKE?

  • Currently, India is using Euro-IV grade emission norm petrol/diesel
  • National deadline for jumping to Euro-VI emission norm is April 2020
  • Euro-VI grade vehicles were not expected to hit the roads before 2020
  • No mainline player is capable of launching multiple models meeting Euro VI norms by April 2018
  • Also, Delhi consumed 906,000 tonnes of petrol and 1.26 million tonnes of diesel in 2016-17. Can this requirement of Euro-VI grade fuel be met from April next year?
  • Oil refineries need to invest Rs 28,000 crore in upgrading petrol and diesel quality to meet cleaner fuel specifications by 2020; are they ready for it in Delhi – even on a limited scale?

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