An estimated 25,000 tractors and over 1,500 units of construction equipment vehicles have not been registered by RTOs (regional transport offices) in many states, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Tamil Nadu since the ban came into force on April 1.
While tractors follow Bharat Tractor Emission Norms (TREM) IIIA, construction equipment vehicles (CEV) have a different Bharat Stage III norm. These emission norms are different from the Bharat Stage IV that normal automobiles follow in India.
The top court order had stated that "vehicles whether two-wheeler, three-wheeler, four-wheeler or commercial vehicles will not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer on and from April 1, 2017" if they are not BS-IV compliant.
"The Supreme Court order to ban BS-III vehicles has been misinterpreted by many RTOs, in states like Delhi, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh. This has resulted in new construction equipment vehicles not being registered," Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers' Association President Anand Sundaresan told news agency PTI.
He said this has happened in peak season for the construction sector, particularly major infrastructure projects as well as construction equipment vehicles industry.
"It has affected a variety of people involved in this sector, from daily wage earners working in infrastructure projects to component manufacturers as OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have cut down production. The entire distribution network has also been hit due this," Mr Sundaresan said.
When asked about how much CEVs have been affected, he said, "Around 30 per cent of monthly sales of 5,000 units of construction equipment vehicles is sold in these states".
The tractor industry is also facing a similar predicament and is hit even harder by the 'misinterpretation' of the Supreme Court order by RTOs.
"These RTOs are saying that anything which has got four wheels will not be registered unless it is BS-IV compliant but tractors have different emission norms from those regular automobiles," an industry source said.
Another official of a tractor manufacturer said, "Their (RTOs) explanation is that they are not aware of the fact that agricultural tractors fall under different emission norms and are waiting for clarification from State Transport Commissioners or Ministry of Road Transport and Highways".
As per industry estimates, in Uttar Pradesh alone around 14,660 tractors were delivered in March and April, while it was 10,000 units in Maharashtra. The same for Telangana was 4,600, Andhra Pradesh 3,250, Tamil Nadu 2,150 and Assam 1,100 units.
"Farmers who bought new tractors in these states are stuck now and may very well miss the season if the issue isn't resolved," the source added.
The tractor manufacturers are likely to approach the Supreme Court seeking clarity on the issue.
The tractor industry is already working with the government to skip the next level of emission norm TREM-IIIB and go directly to TREM-IV by 2021-22, which will require availability of high quality fuels across the country.