Motor companies are holding a stock of 8,24,275 BS-III vehicles, according to media reports.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday banned the sale and registration of vehicles which are not BS-IV compliant from April 1, 2017 across the country. A two-member bench of Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that health of millions of citizens was more important than commercial interests of manufacturers and directed the government not allow registration of polluting BS-III vehicles after March 31. While many green bodies and auto manufacturers have lauded the ruling, those opposing the ruling have warned that the switch to Bharat Stage-IV emission standards can cause difficulties to the entire automotive sector and price increases for the customer to ensure compliance.
The Supreme Court verdict banning BS-III vehicles from April will have to be respected but it is "frustrating" that the existing law allowing sale of these vehicles was ignored, said Vinod Dasari, president of auto industry body SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers).
While earlier orders banned the production of BS-III complaint vehicles, Wednesday's ruling completely bans such vehicles from plying on the road.
"We all have to respect the Supreme Court verdict," Mr Dasari said adding that commercial vehicle makers have been producing BS-IV units since 2010 but they have been selling BS-III for the last seven years because of lack of fuel.
EY Partner and automotive sector leader Rakesh Batra said: "This industry works globally on 20 to 30 days inventory within the distribution channel and this should have considered as part of the transition plan when migrating from BS-III to BS-IV."
"Unfortunately a last minute decision does not help any of the industry stakeholders or consumers, in the month of March when volumes are higher due to year-end purchases and deals," Mr Batra added.
Environmental bodies however lauded the move terming it as an acknowledgement to the public health crisis and a step in right direction towards fighting air pollution.
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2017 report suggests India has the second highest number of early deaths due to particulate matter 2.5 in the world.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment, said "This is a significant step forward as this gives the message and the lesson that the automobile industry will have to walk the extra mile to address the expansive concern around public health and not weigh down the transition by taking a very narrow technical view."
"Matter of principle"
Many automakers also voiced support for the Supreme Court order. Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj said: "There are some things on which you can't put a price. This is for the future of our children. This is a matter of principle."
Similarly, Toyota Kirloskar and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Motor have also lauded the ruling as a move towards meeting global standards of emission and safety. Car market leader Maruti Suzuki is least affected by the order and has been making BS-IV vehicles since 2010.
According to media reports, motor companies are holding a stock of 8,24,275 BS-III vehicles, which includes 96,724 commercial vehicles, 6,71,308 two-wheelers, 40,048 three-wheelers and 16,198 cars.