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Don't worry about BS-VI fuel, focus on R&D: Nitin Gadkari to auto cos

With the government firm on introducing BS-VI emission norms by 2020, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari today asked automakers not to worry about availability of suitable fuel but focus on developing engines to meet the guidelines.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Auto Expo here, the minister said pollution is a big problem and "green judges are now very active".

"It is the time in the country to take appropriate steps," he told the gathered car makers, including Maruti Suzuki, Fiat Chrysler and Audi.

He said the government has decided to introduce the BS-VI emission norms from April 1, 2020.

"We are going to make these norms mandatory. Don't bother about the fuel. That will be my responsibility and (I am) following up with the petroleum ministry and at any cost, we will see to that," Gadkari said.

Automobile manufacturers have expressed doubts on whether BS-VI compatible fuel would be available in time as the entire country is yet to be covered by BS-IV although it was introduced in 2010.

They have also stated that the time span to upgrade to BS-VI from BS-IV in just five years is too short.

Seeking to address these concerns, Gadkari said: "Petroleum ministry has already accepted the responsibility (to make BS-VI fuels) and it is their responsibility to see to it that the fuel is available."

As the country gears up for BS-VI norms, the minister said, "I am sure the industry will develop indigenous competence for technological solutions and would not depend on imports to meet advanced emission norms."

He further asked the the industry "to invest in electric vehicles and also in the R&D of new battery technologies. I am confident our industry is very competent, we need more research."

Assuring support to the auto industry, Gadkari said he has tried to convince Finance Minister Arun Jaitley "to introduce some new schemes which can be helpful for the sector in the next Budget."

Expressing similar sentiments, Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete said: "We don't want to put the auto industry in hard times. Whatever cooperation you seek from the government, we will support you. I do hope that industry would also co-operate with us."

Commenting on the issue of scrapping of old vehicles, Gadkari said the government is working on a policy.

"My note is ready. I am open, I am inviting your suggestions on these policies because by the end of this month, we are going to submit these policies to the Cabinet," he said.

The minister also sought co-operation of the auto industry in promotion of vehicle fitness centres.

"We want to privatise it...So we are going to introduce a new policy by which are going to create more than 3,000 centres in the country, which can give training for driving licenses and can also take care of pollution and vehicle fitness," he said.