India: Compliance and Enforcement

India: Compliance and Enforcement


India’s current mechanisms for enforcing transportation emissions standards are rooted in the Motor Vehicles Act of 1989, which gives the Central Government the role of regulating vehicle emissions. Currently, that role is filled by the  Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) which sets emissions parameters that individual states must enforce. A National Automobile Pollution and Fuel Authority has been proposed to regulate both emissions and fuel quality but has not yet been created.

Background and History

Government authority to regulate motor vehicle emissions in India was first established by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.1 The former vested powers in the individual states to regulate and enforce broad environmental standards, while the latter gave most of the same powers to the central government. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1989, then established vehicular emission standards and authorized the central government and state governments to further regulate and enforce them.2

While the Air Act, 1981 and Environment Act, 1986 specifically mention the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) and state pollution control boards’ (SPCB) role in setting environmental standards, it is ultimately the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) that is responsible for enforcing compliance with India’s vehicular emission standards. This is because the MoRTH is responsible for enforcing the Motor Vehicles Act, 1989, which specifically assigns the central government the responsibility of regulating vehicle emission standards.

While the MoRTH sets norms for in-use emission standards, individual states and municipalities are responsible for enforcing them. Another division of responsibility is with the national agencies that conduct type approval and COP testing. These agencies are under the management of other ministries rather than the MoRTH. For example, two of the primary vehicle testing agencies, the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT), are managed by the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises (MoHIPE).

To simplify the compliance and enforcement process, the 2003 Mashelkar Auto Fuel Policy Committee had recommended the establishment of a National Automobile Pollution and Fuel Authority responsible for all vehicle emissions and related fuel quality issues. Such an agency would not allow for the deflection of its regulatory responsibilities to others. Being a permanent agency, it would also likely be proactive in establishing future standards and regulations that India may need. But this recommendation by the Mashelkar Committee has yet to be adopted.

The Air Act, 1981 and Environment Act, 1986 establish strict penalties of up to seven years in jail and/or fines of Rs. 5 lakh (about $11,000) for violations of environmental regulations. In contrast, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1989 establishes only a maximum Rs. 500 (about $11) fine for the sale or alteration of vehicles not in compliance with established vehicular norms. In any case, it is difficult to find cases in which these penalties were levied on any entity for vehicle emissions.

Main Elements of the Program

India’s vehicle enforcement and compliance program consists of three main elements:

  1. new vehicle type approval,
  2. conformity of production (COP), and
  3. I/M programs (Pollution Under Control (PUC) Programs)

Type Approval

New vehicle type approval and COP are responsibilities of the MoRTH, in conjunction with some other ministries and government institutions.3I/M programs fall under the direction of state and local governments’ road transport offices (RTO), although standards are set nationally.

There are currently six government-owned autonomous testing agencies nationwide charged with type approval and COP testing for emissions from new vehicles. The six testing agencies are listed below:

  1. Automotive Research Association of India, Pune (ARAI)
  2. Vehicle Research & Development Establishment, Ahmednagar (VRDE)
  3. Central Farm Machinery Testing and Training Institute, Budhni (CFMTTI)
  4. Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun (IIP)
  5. Central Institute of Road Transport, Pune (CIRT)
  6. International Centre for Automotive Technology, Manesar (ICAT)

A manufacturer must send a prototype of every new vehicle model to one of the test agencies for certification of compliance. If a prototype passes the test, it is certified. If a prototype fails the test, it is rejected, and the manufacturer must provide a rectified version of the prototype before it can proceed with production of vehicles based on the prototype. Test results are recorded by computer and can be referenced if needed.4

Conformity of Production

To ensure conformity of production (COP) for all vehicles, a testing agency can select vehicles from a manufacturer’s production lot at random but at a specified periodicity. The testing agency indicates to the manufacturer the month in which the vehicles will be selected.5 The vehicles are serviced as prescribed by the manufacturer before emissions tests are performed.4

COP tests are conducted once or twice a year for four-wheeled vehicles, depending on production quantity. For two and three-wheelers, COP tests are conducted every three months, every six months, or once a year, depending on the quantity produced. Sample sizes are between ten and one hundred vehicles in most cases. In cases where production volume is below 250 vehicles every six months, a minimum of five vehicles must be tested.5

The statistical mean of the emissions from the vehicles tested must fall below set norms for COP certificates to be issued. In the case of a failure, the test agency sends copies of the test report to MoRTH and the vehicle manufacturer. Then, over a period not to exceed four weeks, the Standing Committee on Emissions (SCOE) advises MoRTH on the next steps to take. The manufacturer is also given an opportunity to present its case to the MoRTH. The MoRTH then makes a final decision on whether or not to withdraw the type approval certificate from the manufacturer.4

In the case that the type approval certificate is withdrawn, the manufacturer is given a chance to correct the problem, at their own cost, and to submit rectified vehicles for retesting. If the rectified vehicles pass the second test, the type approval certificate is restored. If failure occurs again, the process detailed in the previous paragraph is repeated. This can continue until up to 32 vehicles have failed COP testing. After that, the MoRTH can take further action against the manufacturer, including ordering a recall of all vehicles failing the COP tests. To date, no vehicle model has failed COP testing 32 times and no recalls due to violation of emission standards have been conducted.

In-use compliance testing and I/M program

With set deterioration factors for emissions of many pollutants included in Bharat III and Bharat IV regulations, manufacturers are expected to design passenger cars and commercial vehicles to comply with standards after 80k-100k km of use, and two and three-wheelers that do not exceed emission standards after 30k km of use. All durability requirements by vehicle category are shown in the table below.

Indian durability requirements by vehicle type
Vehicle category Durability requirements (km)
2/3-Wheelers 30,000
LDVs 80,000
N1 100,000
N2 125,000
N3 w/GVW<16,000kg 125,000
N3 w/GVW>16,000kg 167,000
M2 100,000
M3 w/GVW<7500kg 125,000
M3 w/GVW>7500kg 167,000
Note: Vehicle categories are based on European vehicle definitions and can be viewed in further detail here.

A separate Pollution Under Control (PUC) program is required for vehicles in many areas. Most places require PUC checks twice a year, though some cities require it four times a year. The PUC program requires requires vehicles not to exceed set norms. For gasoline, CNG and LPG vehicles emissions are measured at low idle conditions, while for diesel-operated vehicles a snap or free acceleration test is used.9

PUC norms for in-use gasoline, CNG, and LPG vehicles
Vehicle Type CO (%) HC*(ppm)
2 & 3 Wheelers (2/4 stroke) (vehicles manufactured before Apr 1, 2000) 4.5 9000
2 & 3 Wheelers (2 stroke) (vehicles manufactured on or after Apr 1, 2000) 3.5 6000
2 & 3 Wheelers (4 stroke) (vehicles manufactured on or after Apr 1, 2000) 3.5 4500
Lower than Bharat II compliant 4 Wheelers 3.0 1500
Bharat II and Bharat III 4 Wheelers 0.5 750
Bharat IV compliant 4 Wheelers 0.3 200

*For CNG and LPG vehicles the measured HC value is converted using the following formula:

CNG vehicles: Non-methane Hydrocarbon (NMHC) = 0.3 x HC
LPG vehicles: Reactive Hydrocarbon (RHC) = 0.5 x HC
PUC norms for in-use light-duty diesel vehicles
Method of Test Maximum Smoke Density
Ligtht Absorption Coefficient (1/m) Hartridge smoke units (HSU)
Free Acceleration Test for turbo charged and naturally aspirated engines complying with Bharat III and below 2.45 65
Free Acceleration Test for turbo charged and naturally aspirated engines complying with Bharat IV and below 1.62 50

Each Road Transport Office (RTO) has its own PUC mechanisms. Therefore, the enforcement system for PUC standards is not uniform, and its effectiveness varies from region to region.

The National Capital Region (NCR) has been at the forefront of PUC enforcement reform over the past decade. Vehicles are required to undergo a PUC check once every three months. The NCR has implemented a computerized PUC testing procedure, which reduces the risk of human error. A standardized certificate is issued for passing the test, and police have the right to stop any driver and ask for a valid PUC certificate.10If any vehicle is found to be operating without a valid PUC certificate, a fine of Rs. 1000 is applied for the first violation and a fine of Rs. 2000 for subsequent violations.11

PUC tests are paid for by vehicle owners. Costs for PUC tests vary by region and city. In Delhi, PUC testing centers charge owners about Rs. 25 for petrol cars and Rs. 50 for diesel cars.
In-use emissions standards for two and three-wheelers

In-Use Emissions Standards12 (Vehicles manufactured on, or after, April 2000)
Year Cycle Strokes Wheel configuration Revised Norms
CO % HC (ppm)
Pre 3.31.2000 Two and four Two and three-wheelers ≤4.5 ≤9000
Post 3.31.2000* Two Two and three-wheelers ≤ 3.5 ≤6000
Four ≤4500

Note: As per Notification dated 10th February 2004, on and after 1st October 2004, every motor vehicle operating on Petrol/ CNG/ LPG shall comply with the Idling Emission Standards for CO and HC as given in the table above.

*W.e.f. 1st October 2004: CO Emission Norms for new petrol drive vehicles (4-stroke two and three wheelers fitted with a Catalytic Converter) manufactured on or after 1st April 2000 shall conform to the following values: the CO limit shall be 3.5%.

Show 12 footnotes

  1. The Environment (Protection) Act P.o. India, Editor 1986.
  2. Motor Vehicles Act, P.o. India, Editor 1988.
  3. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG), Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
  4. Bhangale UD, Bansal G, Editor 2011: Manesar, India.
  5. https:// Certification – COP. 2012
  6. Bhangale UD, Bansal G, Editor 2011: Manesar, India.
  7. https:// Certification – COP. 2012
  8. Bhangale UD, Bansal G, Editor 2011: Manesar, India.
  9. Status of the Vehicular Pollution Control Programme in India, 2010, Ministry of Environment & Forests.
  10. Roychowdhury A, Bansal G, Editor 2011: Delhi, India.
  11. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about PUC Certificate 2010 May 6, 2010 September 6, 2011
  12. Pollution Control Division, Overview of transport sector in India, as of 2005

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