Supreme Court verdict on BS-IV norms: What & Why

The Supreme Court of India on 29 March 2017 called for a blanket ban on the sell as well as the registration of Bharat Stage III (BS-III) compliant vehicles. It asked the government, concerned authorities and the automobile industry to switch over to the BS-IV compatible vehicles beginning on 1 April 2017. A directive of the Union Government, released in 2010, allows the production of BS-III compliant vehicles till 1 April 2017. However, there was no deadline in the directive regarding the sale of these vehicles.

In view of the possibility of sale of BS-III vehicles for an extended period beyond April 2017, the EPCA (Environment Pollution Control Authority), a governmental agency, has approached the Court to ensure that the “1 April 2017” deadline is applicable even for the sale of the vehicles too. By considering the EPCA’s plea, the Court directed the automobile manufacturers not to sell the BS-III vehicles and the authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to not to register them if they are sold after 1 April 2017.

For any government, in fact for any society, health is an essential and an uncompromising aspect. By switching over to BS-IV, we get to see a more cleaner environment as –Significance of the directive. A BS-IV compliant vehicle releases less pollutants, such as NO, NO2, SO2 and CO, than a BS-III compliant vehicle. A shift from BS-III to BS-IV will result in an 80% reduction in particulate matter (PM) emissions from heavy duty vehicles. Similarly, the move will result in a 50 % reduction in PM from cars.

In a country where 2 people die every minute (Lancet Report 2017) due to air pollution, every step towards reduction in the air pollution levels is of a much significance. On the global front, this move will help India in reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from the 2005 level, which is a commitment made by the Government under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of the UNFCCC.

Way back in 1992, in the Society For Clean Environment Vs Union Of India case, the apex court expanded the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution by including the “Right to Clean Environment” as an integral part of the “Right to Life, Liberty and the Security of Person.”By reaffirming its faith in this principle in letter and spirit, the Court made it clear that public health is far more important than “commercial interests” of manufacturers. This decision of the Supreme Court and the cooperation extended by the industry in implementing will go a long way in making India a cleaner, safer and healthier society.

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