in a laudable move, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers' ( siam ) has for the first time introduced a roadmap for implementation of emission norms.
At a press conference on April 11, siam declared that the two-wheeler industry had made remarkable strides in technology. However, it maintained that there was scope to improve further by one notch in 2005 over the current India 2000 norms. "Thereafter, we would need to undertake a technical feasibility study to assess if further improvements are possible," said N V Iyer, chairperson of siam 's two- and three-wheeler division.
The confidence projected by siam that the emission norms met by the Indian two-wheeler industry were among the most stringent in the world is, however, not entirely correct. Especially since it remains unaware that Switzerland -- encumbered by the two-stroke technology and catalytic conver ters -- nevertheless meets emission levels about half that of the Indian industry.
As for passenger cars, siam proposes Euro iii norms from 2004 and Euro iv norms from 2007. Therefore, despite the so called "hard" efforts to catch up with the current European emission norms, compared to Europe, India would still be lagging behind by two to three years in passenger car emission levels.
They have also suggested that the heavy-duty vehicle industry skip Euro iii , to continue with the dirtier technology of Euro ii for seven more years, after which time they can straightaway implement Euro iv norms in 2008. Keeping in mind that diesel cannot be easily substituted in trucks and also in buses in many cities of India, it is more important to implement Euro iii not later than 2002 and then Euro iv by 2005 to catch up with Europe. Moreover, diesel-run vehicles are the most polluting.
Unfortunately, despite Supreme Court rulings to expedite the introduction of alternate fuels like compressed natural gas ( cng ), the industry's action agenda has not committed a certain percentage of vehicle production on clean fuels. Nor has it made any move towards production of zero emission vehicles like battery-operated two- and three-wheelers.
The court had forced the auto industry into implementing stringent emission standards twice -- Euro i in June 1999 and Euro ii in April 2000. Otherwise, the industry's agenda for action lacks the sense of urgency and is extremely lax. In the face of such apathy, this "proactive initiative" seems like an attempt to preclude chances of getting caught unawares by the court slapping tight deadlines on them.