New Delhi: The discourse around air pollution worldwide is never complete without mentioning the status of air quality in India, which is home to 15 out of 20 most polluted cities of the world, as per the World Air Quality Report 2018. While there are many sources of pollution that are deteriorating the air in India, vehicular emission has been established as the biggest culprit by studies conducted by institutes like The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), and System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR). Amidst all the concerns regarding the rising air pollution, the country took multiple steps to curb the pollutants like launching of the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) earlier this year and implementing Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on high pollution days. One of the steps taken by the country towards strengthening the fight against air pollution was deciding to implement the Bharat Stage (BS) VI emission norms from April 1, 2020. This step, as per the Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, will improve the air quality drastically in the coming years by reducing vehicular pollution to a great extent.
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Speaking at an event to mark World Environment Day, on June 5, Union Minister Javadekar said,
Vehicular pollution which is 28 to 30 per cent of air pollution will be reduced drastically after implementation of Bharat Stage (BS) VI emission norms which will be implemented from next year.
Environment Minister @PrakashJavdekar says, vehicular pollution which is 28 to 30% of air pollution will be reduced drastically after implementation of #BharatStage(BS)-6 emission norms from next year. pic.twitter.com/CL3ZAjONY9
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) June 6, 2019
He added that the BS VI norms compliant vehicles will be available in the country from 2020 and highlighted that over sixty thousand crore rupees have been invested in this direction.
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Citing the data on number of poor air quality days, Mr. Javadekar said,
Air quality has improved in the national capital due to the concerted actions of the government. In 2014 in the national capital the number of poor air quality days was 300 which came down to 206 days in 2017. The hope is that this will further reduce this year. Air pollution is a global challenge and it requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders to deal with the challenge.
What Is Bharat Stage VI?
The Bharat Stage (BS) emission norms are standards instituted by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from motor vehicles. The country currently follows BS IV and will switch to BS VI next year. Here are few things you must know about the new emission norms:
– BS VI emissions norms require the installation of particulate filters to remove particulate matter from the vehicle exhaust
– Thus the vehicles complying with BS VI norms are cleaner as these emit lesser sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and other toxic gases
– The new norms make on-board diagnostics (OBD) mandatory for all vehicles
– The OBD unit can identify likely areas of malfunction by means of default codes stored on a computer
– BS VI was earlier supposed to come in 2025 but the government decided to leapfrog from BS IV to BS VI last year, skipping BS V as ordered by Supreme Court in October 2018
-Therefore, from April 1, 2020 onwards only the vehicles complying with the BS VI emission norms will be allowed to be sold in the country and registration of BS IV vehicles will be banned
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Shambhavi Shukla, air pollution expert from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in conversation with NDTV affirmed Mr. Javadekar’s claim. She said,
Bharat Stage VI will definitely lead to a massive reduction in emissions. The studies done on emission inventories like the one done by TERI, ARAI, IIT and SAFAR, found that approximately 40 per cent of PM (Particulate Matter) 2.5 pollution is because of vehicles.
Explaining the significance of BS VI, Ms. Shukla said that the sulphur level in BS IV complied diesel vehicle emission is 50 ppm (part per million) while in BS VI, it is 10 ppm. Similarly, in emissions from petrol vehicles, the sulphur levels in BS IV complied vehicles is 30 ppm and in BS VI it is 10 ppm. Thus by implementing BS VI norms, the sulphur levels in a vehicle’s emission can be brought down immediately by 3-5 times. In terms of reduction in particulate matters, United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) estimates that BS VI would be leading to around 82 to 93 per cent reduction in particulate level from diesel vehicles and will lower the emission of NOx (oxides of nitrogen) by 68 per cent.
As the auto industry is now gearing up to upgrade their vehicles to comply with the BS VI standards, Ms. Shukla suggests that the manufacturers and consumers should be made aware of the correct ways of using BS VI vehicles as the emission controlled devises being installed in these vehicles are sensitive and demand high maintenance.
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However, Ms. Shukla asserts that along with bringing in BS VI emissions norms, there is a need of encouraging the use of public transport and notifying regulations regarding scarping of old pollution vehicles. She said,
Around 1500 private vehicles get registered everyday in Delhi. Thus the massive amount of vehicles that being added on road are leading to congestions and a collective increase in emission levels. We need a formal scrappage policy. In 2015, CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) drafted ‘End Of Life’ regulations but nothing has been done till now. The public has not been told yet bout the way to discard a vehicles. While Delhi already has implemented the scraping of 10 year old petrol and 15 year old diesel vehicles policy, we need a formal vehicle end of life regulation policy for the whole country.
Recently, Maruti Suzuki decided to stop making diesel cars and produce only BS VI complying cars by the end of the current year. The company launched the revamped Alto 800 and K-10 cars with BS VI engines, in the market. Apart from Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra has also recently announced of making an investment of Rs. 1000 crore to launch BS VI complaint cars soon.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.