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Automobile Industry Regulations in India

In view of the huge investment in the automotive sector, it is important to be aware of the laws relating to and the regulation governing the automotive sector writes Vidya Sunderam.

The Indian automobile industry is the tenth largest in the world. It has an annual production of approximately 2 million units. There has been a sustained growth in the automotive sector of India following the economic reforms of 1991 which opened up 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment in this sector. The competitiveness in the automotive sector has been increasing since then. The industry has been growing annually at 20 per cent. India is set to be a key player in the automotive sector.

The automotive regulations in India are governed by the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways (MoSRT&H) which is the nodal ministry for regulation of the automotive sector in India. Along with MoSRT&H, ministries such as Ministry of Environment & Forests and Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas also have a vital role in the formulation of automotive regulations and standards in India.

The principal instrument governing the automotive sector in India is the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MVA) along with the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 (CMVR). The Act governs emission norms and safety standards in India and consolidates the law pertaining to motor vehicles. The CMVR provide the rules that explain the MVA in detail.

MoSRT&H has constituted two committees to recommend and advise the ministry on issues relating to Safety and Emission Regulations. These committees are - Central Motor Vehicles Rules-Technical Standing Committee (CMVR-TSC) and Standing Committee on Implementation of Emission Legislation (SCOE). Central Motor Vehicles Rules-Technical Standing Committee (CMVR-TSC) was formulated to receive draft recommendations from other committees, such as Automotive Industry Standards Committee and Bureau of Indian Standards, and to finalise and approve safety recommendations made by such committees. The joint secretary of MoSRT&H is the Chairman of CMVR-TSC. CMVR-TSC comprises of representatives from Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), Select State Governments, Testing agencies, SIAM and other invitees. The purpose of CMVR-TSC is to finalise and approve the draft standards and norms submitted by various committees. The CMVR-TSC is assisted by the Automotive Industry Standards Committee (AISC) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

AISC is a committee set up by MoSRT&H. The purpose of establishing this committee was to review the safety standards with regard to motor vehicles in India on a periodic basis and to give recommendations. The Chairman of this committee is the Director of Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) which is one of the testing agencies constituted under CMVR-TSC. The AISC safety standards are formulated and prepared by separate Panel comprising of representatives of various stakeholder associations such as Department of Heavy Industries, Department of IPP, Department of RT&H, BIS, Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE), SIAM, ACMA and ARAI. The representative of ARAI is the member secretary of this committee.

For preparing safety standards, consideration is on various aspects such as the status of technology, time frame required for implementation, necessity of a particular regulation in relation to the safety and emission issues, etc. AISC submits the draft safety standards in the form of recommendations to CMVR-TSC for final approval. The CMVR TSC looks into the recommendations of AISC and either approves or sends the recommendations to AISC for amendments. After approval CMVR-TSC submits its final proposal to MoSRT&H. MoSRT&H then takes the final decision for incorporation of the recommendations in CMVR.

The National Standards for Automotive Industry are prepared by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). These standards are submitted for approval to the CMVR-TSC. After approval the CMVR-TSC sends it to MoSRT&H for final approval. The standards formulated by AISC are also converted into Indian Standards by BIS. The standards formulated by both BIS and AISC are considered by CMVR-TSC for implementation.

Standing Committee on Implementation of Emission Legislation (SCOE) is another committee along with CMVR-TSC that was formulated under the MoSRT&H. This committee was established for the purpose of recommending emission norms. This committee is established to discuss the future emission norms and to recommend norms for in-use vehicles to MoSRT&H. This committee finalises the test procedures and the implementation strategy for emission norms and advises MoSRT&H on any issue relating to implementation of emission regulations.

The CMVR-TSC and SCOE recommend the safety standards and emission norms for implementation by the MoSRT&H. The standards and norms that are finalized by the CMVR-TSC are then sent for approval of the Secretary (MoSRT&H) and the Minister. After approval by the Ministry, and based on the recommendations from CMVR-TSC and SCOE, MoSRT&H issues notification for necessary amendments / modifications in the in Central Motor Vehicle Rules. The finalized standards and norms are notified through General Statutory Rule/Statutory Order.

Under Rule 126 of the CMVR, various test agencies are established to test and certify the vehicles based on the safety standards and emission norms prescribed by the Ministry. Every manufacturer of motor vehicle has to submit a prototype of the vehicle to be manufactured to any of the test agencies mentioned hereafter. After testing the vehicle for compliance of all standards and norms, the test agency shall grant a certificate to the manufacturer. The test agencies are Automotive Research Association of India, Pune (ARAI), Vehicle Research & Development Establishment, Ahmednagar, Central Farm Machinery Testing and Training Institute, Budni, Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun, Central Institute of Road Transport, Pune and International centre for Automotive Technology, Manesar.

The Indian standards and norms are at par with international standards to the extent that there is a sustained growth in the automotive sector. But there is a need to consolidate the laws further by bringing a master legislation in force that would govern and regulate all committees in force India rather than the committees being governed by various Ministries.

VIDYA SUNDERAM is an Associate with Kanth & Associates, New Delhi. She may be reached at vidya@kanthandassociates.com
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