KOLKATA, 29 JULY: The Bharat Stage IV norms, whose deadline was set by the National Auto Fuel Policy as 1 April, 2010, has still not been implemented in the city.
The National Auto Fuel Policy makes it mandatory for all automobiles and fuel (petrol and diesel) to meet BS-III emission specifications in 11 cities from April 1, 2005 and BS-IV norms by April 1, 2010 and BS-III emission norm compliant automobiles and fuels in the rest of the country by 1 April, 2010. The deadline for implementation of Bharat Stage III emission norms all over the country, that was originally set for 1 April 2010, has now been delayed till October this year.
When asked why the BS IV has not been implemented, Mr Ranjit Kundu, state transport minister, said, “We will implement BS-IV norms as soon as the manufacturers are able to supply BS-IV compliant vehicles.” Auto emission expert, Mr SM Ghosh, however, said that the manufacturers have BS-IV vehicles. Consequently, we see so many private-owned BS-IV cars on the roads. “The state government has violated the rules. The state government is deliberately not implementing the norms to keep commercial vehicle owners happy,” he said. Officials of the state transport department say that they have not been given clear instructions on when to stop the registration of BS III vehicles.
The commercial vehicle owners, meanwhile, have refused to buy BS-IV vehicles, stating that they are expensive. They say that a BS-IV compliant bus costs Rs 20 lakh while a BS-III compliant bus comes for Rs 14 Lakh. The taxi owners said that BS-IV taxis come for Rs 4.5 lakh, while BS-III compliant taxis come for Rs 3.75 lakh. Fuel for the BS-IV vehicle is also expensive, Rs 2 more than the BS-III compliant vehicles. Mr Swarnakamal Saha, president, Bengal Bus Syndicate said, “The BS-IV vehicles would not be able to ply on the city roads as they are in a bad shape. The state government should improve the road conditions before implementing BS-IV norms. The BS-IV compliant fuel is also not adequately available in the state.”
Interestingly, several BS-II vehicles still ply on the city roads. Also, several BS-II buses have BS-III painted on their bodies and the drivers seem to know nothing about it. “BS-III is something to do with the permit,” said the driver of a bus on the Salt Lake-Howrah route.
Though the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has brought out a list of four-wheeler models that have been upgraded to BS IV, the Union ministry of road transport and highways issued an order that allows authorities to register BS III compliant vehicles till existing stocks are exhausted.
The deadline for implementation of BS-III was relaxed in other parts of the country after the oil companies said that they need more time to supply cleaner fuel to match the technological upgradation in the vehicles. “If a BS-IV vehicle runs on a BS-II or BS-III fuel, it may suffer damage,” said Mr Dipak Chakraborty, chief scientist, state pollution control board.