The first Indian emission regulations were idle emission limits which became effective in 1989. These idle emission regulations were soon replaced by mass emission limits for both gasoline (1991) and diesel (1992) vehicles, which were gradually tightened during the 1990’s. Since the year 2000, India started adopting European emission and fuel regulations for four-wheeled light-duty and for heavy-duty vehicles. India’s own emission regulations still apply to two- and three-wheeled vehicles.

The National Auto Fuel Policy, announced on October 6, 2003, envisioned a phased program for introducing Euro 2-4 emission and fuel regulations by 2010. In order to establish limits beyond Bharat Stage IV, the Indian Planning Commission established a Committee in 2013 to draft an updated Auto Fuel Policy. In its report, Auto Fuel Vision and Policy 2025, the Committee recommended that Bharat Stage IV fuel be required nationwide from April 2017 followed by a further step up to the Bharat Stage V in April 2020. Draft recommendations discussed prior to the report’s release included a national Bharat Phase IV+ stage (40 ppm sulfur) starting in 2017 and a national Bharat Stage V fuel standard staring in 2021. In October 2015, it was announced that BS V would start to be implemented across the country starting 2019 and BS VI starting 2023. Prior to this announcement, the Oil Ministry had proposed proceeding directly from BS IV to BS VI but this move was opposed by the automotive industry.

The implementation schedule of EU emission standards in India is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1
Indian Emission Standards (4-Wheel Vehicles)
India 2000Euro 12000Nationwide
Bharat Stage IIEuro 2 2001NCR*, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai
2003.04NCR*, 11 cities†
Bharat Stage IIIEuro 3 2005.04NCR*, 11 cities†
Bharat Stage IVEuro 4 2010.04NCR*, 13 cities‡
2015.07aAbove plus 29 cities mainly in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharastra
2015.10bNorth India plus bordering districts of Rajasthan (9 States)
2016.04bWestern India plus parts of South and East India (10 States and Territories)
Bharat Stage VEuro 52019Nationwide
Bharat Stage VIEuro 62023Nationwide
* National Capital Region (Delhi)
† Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Kanpur and Agra
‡ Above cities plus Solapur and Lucknow. The program was later expanded with the aim of including 50 additional cities by March 2015.
a Ministry of Road Transport and Highways draft notification April 1, 2015 [3231]
b Ministry of Road Transport and Highways draft notification May 19, 2015 [3232]

The above standards apply to all new 4-wheel vehicles sold and registered in the respective regions. In addition, the National Auto Fuel Policy 2003 introduced certain emission requirements for interstate buses with routes originating or terminating in Delhi or the other mentioned cities.

For 2-and 3-wheelers, Bharat Stage II applied from April 1, 2005 and Stage III standards came into force in April 1, 2010. The roll out of Bharat Stage IV limits nationwide was delayed by the challenge of convincing fuel producers to make the necessary investments required to supply 50 ppm sulfur fuel nationwide. Potential solutions that have been suggested include deregulation of diesel prices, an environment compensation charge on diesel vehicles and an additional levy on diesel fuel.

Even in cities with Bharat Stage IV limits, there have been challenges ensuring the dominance of compliant vehicles. Some of these challenges include: exemptions granted to some specialty vehicle (e.g., taxis) manufacturers, registration of Bharat Stage III vehicles by vehicle owners outside of their place residence due to loopholes in residential proof, registration of commercial vehicles outside of the Bharat Stage IV zones and insufficient availability of some specialty vehicles (e.g., garbage trucks) in Bharat Stage IV configurations.

Attempts to set fuel economy standards started in 2007, but it were delayed due to inter-ministerial conflicts and pressure from the automobile industry. In January 2014, the Ministry of Power the Bureau of Energy Efficiency notified minimum fuel efficiency norms for passenger vehicles that are sold in India. Two sets of standards were announced: one set for fiscal years 2016-17 to 2020-21 and another for fiscal year 2021-22 onwards [3037]. The Road Transport Ministry objected by claiming the new emission levels were being mandated a year ahead of an earlier agreed to deadline.

Regulated Engines and Vehicles

Emission standards have been adopted for the following categories of new engines and/or vehicles:

Fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles were published in 2014 that come into force from 2016/17.