The Union government on Wednesday decided to skip Bharat Stage (BS)-V emission norms and directly implement the more stringent BS-VI norms from April 1, 2020. The BS-VI emission norms, which were earlier slated for implementation by 2024, have been advanced by four years, thanks to this decision, taken in a meeting chaired by Minister for Road Transport and Highways, and Shipping Nitin Gadkari.

The decision was taken jointly by Gadkari, Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan at an inter-ministerial meeting. According to Pradhan, public-sector oil companies will invest about Rs 28,750 crore for switching over to BS-VI auto fuels.

Currently, major cities in India follow BS-IV emission norms, while the rest of the country still follows BS-III norms. The adoption of BS-IV all over the country is expected to be completed by April 2017. By switching directly to BS-VI in 2020, India will join developed countries such as the US, Japan and European nations, which currently follows Euro Stage VI emission norms. The proposed BS-VI is the Indian equivalent of the Euro Stage VI.

Earlier, in a draft notification by the Road Transport and Highway Ministry, the date for the adoption of BS-VI was advanced to 1 April, 2021, and now it has been further advanced to 1 April, 2020. The proposal comes at a time when pollution has become a major problem in many cities in India. The capital city of New Delhi has been ranked the world's worst-polluted city by the World Health Organisation. The list has other Indian cities as well in the top 10, such as Patna, Gwalior, Raipur, Ahmadabad and Lucknow.

The decision to implement BS-VI norms in 2020 will make cars, SUVs, trucks and buses more expensive. Auto companies and parts-makers also have doubts on whether they would be ready in time for the norms.