Since the invention of the wheel, mankind has come a long way. Transportation has witnessed spectacular technological progress which has made the world a much smaller place than it once was. However, there is a flip side to the story. While vehicles have become a huge success and integral to everyday life, the environment has had to bear the brunt of emission gasses and pollutants spilling out of these marvels of engineering. In a bid to control the damage, technology once again plays a much-needed role by enabling the creation of certain vehicle norms and standards.
Emission standards and norms are basically a set of limits for pollutants including, but not limited to, nitrogen and sulphur oxides, other greenhouse gasses and carbon dioxide that the emission control technology being deployed in a vehicle has to control. Different countries have separate emission control standards developed by agencies dedicated to this particular task. The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States for example, manages and sets standards and norms for vehicles in the country.
The first emission standards and regulations in India were actually idle emission limits and came into effect in 1989. These were changed to mass emission limits during the early 1990s and the norms were gradually tightened. India began to adopt European Emission standards from 2000 for cars, busses and trucks. Scooters and three-wheelers follow Indian emission standards that are known to be one of the most stringent standards in the world.
As one of the fastest growing automobile industry in the world, India has a strong focus on combining safety and emission control regulations in accordance with International Standards. Emission standards in India are set by the government through the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways through the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. Emission norms and safety standards are recommended to be introduced by the Central Vehicles Rules – Technical Standard Committee (CMVR- TSC) and the Standing Committee on Implementation of Emission Legislation (SCOE). The safety standards are prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the Automotive Industry Standards Committee (AISC).
While the Bureau of Indian Standards in an autonomous quality control agency, the AISC is set up the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The AISC comprises of members and representatives of various stake holding agencies and includes members from the Automobile Research Association of India (ARAI) and the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). The primary objective of AISC to evaluate technology, determine its feasibility, consider timeframes for the implementation of new standards and consider the need for change in regulations for vehicular safety and emission standards. Once the draft is prepared, it is submitted to the CMVR-TSC for its approval. After the CMVR-TSC adopts the finalized standards and recommends that they be implemented, the proposal is sent to the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways for final approval and subsequent notification.
The development and implementation of safety and emission standards for vehicles in India is a combined effort of several agencies that are dedicated to create a better future. Unlike the chariots of yesteryears, the modern fuel-based vehicles require cumulative efforts to provide optimized performance without compromising on the safety of the very people they have been designed to serve.