Millennium Post

Can't convert BS-III vehicles into BS-IV, car firms tell SC

Automobile manufacturers on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was "not possible" for them to convert the existing stock of BS-III compliant two and four wheelers to Bharat Stage-IV emission norms.

The manufacturers' response came after the court wanted to know about the cost of converting a BS-III vehicle to BS-IV level before it is launched in the market.

"As far as cars and scooters are concerned, it cannot be converted from BS-III to BS-IV....It is not possible. Cost is secondary," the counsel appearing for one of the manufacturers told a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta.

The court was hearing pleas of automobile firms seeking permission for disposing of around 8.2 lakh BS-III vehicles which are being held in stock.

They have approached the apex court to dispose of their stock as the BS-IV emission norms are to come into force from April 1 this year.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who appeared for the Centre, told the bench that fuel for BS-IV vehicle is "much cleaner" and the oil refineries have spent around Rs 30,000 crore since 2010 to produce it.

He said a BS-III vehicle can run on BS-IV fuel and "it is not that BS-III vehicles will become redundant because these will run on BS-IV fuel".

Kumar said that as per the data, around 19 crore vehicles are on road across the country and nobody has challenged or filed objection either after the draft notification on the issue was published or after the notification came.

He said the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has never gone to the government opposing the notification and it has also not given reports regarding the environment.

"The committee is there for around last 20 years, They are not giving reports to the government," he said. To this, the bench said, "Blame game is going on in every thing. We do not want that." The solicitor general, however, clarified that he was not blaming anybody. He argued that the government was "not wishing away with all BS-III vehicles from the roads" as a large number of the total vehicles were BS-III compliant. During the argument, the bench was told that major concern was diesel vehicles as they emit much higher pollution as compared to petrol-run vehicles.

The Solicitor General argued that out of the around 8.24 lakh vehicles, there were 96,724 commercial vehicles which run on diesel.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, representing two-wheeler manufacturer Hero, told the apex court that for converting the vehicles into BS-IV compliant, they have to be dismantled and it would cost between around Rs 11,900 to Rs 17,800 per vehicle depending on its model.

The bench would continue hearing the matter today.

The apex court had earlier asked the automobile companies not to frustrate the Centre's initiative to check increasing levels of pollution by selling BS-III vehicles which they are holding in stock.

It had indicated that it will either ban registration of such vehicles or impose costs to compensate for the health hazards created by pollution.
It had said that three options were available before it.

These were either taking a step to ban registration of BS-III vehicles or allow their registration but ban plying of such vehicles in major cities or ask the companies to pay costs for creating health hazards and reimburse the Centre which spent enormous money in upgrading fuel standards.
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