You might have definitely sweated in Delhi pollution and cursed the ever increasing number of vehicles on road. As more and more people join the middle or upper middle class, there is supposed to be an exponential increase in the number of on-road vehicles and hence, more pollution.
So how do we control this madness? Do you think having an odd-even scheme once every year is going to take care of this or people will have a sudden change of heart for owning a car and commute in metro?
We all know that this is never going to happen. So where does the solution lie? You might think about increasing forest cover. That’s correct but it may help just a little as being a country of one billion plus people, there is very less area available to plant trees.
Ok. Enough food for thought. Let’s first understand a bit about emission standards. When a vehicle burns oil, as a chemical reaction to produce kinetic energy, some unwanted by-products in the form of gases and small particles are produced and released in the atmosphere, which is one major cause of pollution from vehicles. With the advancement in technology, scientists have been able to optimise the combustion process to produce minimum unwanted by-products. These have been categorised in standards and are known us Euro Emission Standards. In India, this is known as Bharat Emission Standards. You might have noticed Bharat IV at the back of your car. It starts from Euro 1 and goes till Euro 6, which the latest. In a nutshell, Euro 6 compliant vehicles generate very less pollution when compared to Euro 1 vehicles.
If you want to know more about the difference between various standards, please check this.
Most of the developed nations have already moved to Euro 6 but we are still on Euro 4. It will also be interesting to know that the policy to follow Euro standards in India was rolled out by our beloved Prime Minister Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji in 2000. By 2005, we had a nationwide rollout of Euro 2 standard. So during five-years of NDA 1.0, we not only started this policy but within their one term, Euro 2 standards were rolled out almost nationwide. During next 10 years, which were under UPA reign, government could not even take Euro 4 rollout to national level.
Here is the history:
|India 2000||Euro 1||2000||Nationwide|
|Bharat Stage II||Euro 2||2001||NCR*, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai|
|2003.04||NCR*, 11 cities†|
|Bharat Stage III||Euro 3||2005.04||NCR*, 11 cities†|
|Bharat Stage IV||Euro 4||2010.04||NCR*, 13 cities‡|
|2015.07||Above plus 29 cities mainly in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharastra |
|2015.10||North India plus bordering districts of Rajasthan (9 States) |
|2016.04||Western India plus parts of South and East India (10 States and Territories) |
|Bharat Stage V||Euro 5||n/a a|
|Bharat Stage VI||Euro 6||2020.04||Nationwide |
OK so what is the fuss? Why can’t we follow the latest standards?
- Just hold on to your horses for a while as it’s not as easy as it sounds. There is a lot of background work that needs to be finished before taking this jump. Everyone is not a statesman like Mr. Vajpayee and there are reasons why UPA could upgrade only by 1.5 level in one whole decade. Leaving aside nitties and gritties, on higher level it needs below mentioned in order to comply with higher emission standards:
- Auto makers need to make adjustments in the various automobile components, including engine to follow the higher emission standards (there is no or very little investment at government end and we just need a right policy)
- Oil marketing companies need the skills, capabilities and upgraded infrastructure to process the crude oil with high refinery techniques.
It’s the second point where the whole game story lies. A huge cash pile is needed in order to upgrade the crude oil refinery infrastructure and since UPA was doling out a lot of subsidy to keep the fuel prices low, there was almost no money left with the oil marketing companies to invest in high-end refinery. Resulting in citizens left on the mercy of ever dwindling air quality index.
As per government estimate we need a whopping $4.5 billion by 2020 to start producing Euro 6 complaint fuel. Now the question arises where are we going to get this money from? Obviously from you and me, but how?
I hope by now you might have started guessing where is the tax, which is collected from petrol and diesel, being routed to. It was obviously easy for the government to lower the retail price of petrol when crude oil was already at record low. But what is important is at what cost should the petrol be?
You have two options here – continue living in rapidly increasing pollution and with no remedy plan or shell out Rs 5 to 10 extra on every litre of petrol. Surely, second option is and should be acceptable for a cleaner and greener tomorrow for our future generation.
Now a pessimist within you might be shouting – so what, this is just a plan and nothing is going to happen on ground but it might be interesting to know that government has decided to skip Euro 5 standard completely and directly jump to Euro 6. From the implementation perspective, it might sound a jumla to some of you but since April 2018, all the pumps in Delhi have started selling Euro 6 complaint fuel. Although it will start showing positive environmental impacts, first, after auto makers start rolling out Bharat VI complaint engines from April 2020, and second, after nation wide rollout of EURO 6 starts from April 2020.
Sir. But the long term solution for reducing pollution is not bharat 6 or bharat x version. Solution is incentivising public transport. In country like india where density of population is high, public transport can come to rescue as there can be higher frequency of buses and metros, thus reducing waiting time. Cars not only congest roads but also are reason for more pollution and higher stress levels. NDA 3.0 must talk about public transport with citizens participating actively to secure a clean environment for their children.
Agreed ! But as cars are there to stay moving to Bharat 6 will help to address the problem to some extent. Rapid public transport and moving away from fossil fuels are going to be torchbearer in long run. Govt policy on EV is a welcome step though states and centre need to work together to formulate a robust policy to move people toward public transport along with measure to address issues like crop burning , construction activities etc.