German based company obeys NGT’s order citing severe environmental damage; SC to hear on January 21

The Volkswagen Company has agreed to comply the National Green Tribunals demand of Rs 100 crores for causing serious environmental challenges. The NGT yesterday warned the company to submit the amount by 5 pm today.

“The Volkswagen Group reiterates that all cars from the group are compliant with the emission norms in India. The order of the honourable NGT is already under challenge before the honourable Supreme Court. However, the Volkswagen Group India will comply with the order of honourable NGT and deposit the money, as directed,” a Volkswagen Group India spokesperson said in relation.

Earlier in the day, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel had taken strong exception to the non-compliance of its November 2018 order. The bench further deferred the matter after it learnt that the automaker had knocked the doors of the apex court. “Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay? We will not give you any further time,” the bench had stated. The apex court will reportedly hear the matter on January 21.

On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ‘cheat device’ by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India led to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

A four-member committee was also formed to look into whether Volkswagen has exceeded the prescribed environmental norms and arrive at a fair estimate of the damage caused to the environment.

The tribunal is hearing pleas filed in 2015 against Volkswagen vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal in the US. Volkswagen had admitted to the use of a ”defeat device” in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets. A ”cheat” or ”defeat device” is a software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the cars.

After Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) conducted tests on some Volkswagen models and found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the applicable BS-IV norms.

“There are certain recommendations in the report which Volkswagen Group India seeks to object; the issue is presently pending before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal,” the Volkswagen Group India spokesperson said yesterday.

“The VW case in India has only emerged after the scandal was detected and penalised in Europe and North America. In the case of India, several other manufacturers have, in the past, been tested, and it has been found that real-world emissions on the road far exceed the permissible standards,” Polash Mukerjee, senior research associate at the Centre for Science and Environment reported.

Significantly, the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill, 2017, pending in the Parliament for over two years, reportedly includes a provision for mandatory recall of defective vehicles by the manufacturer, along with a provision for penalising manufacturers for vehicles that fail to meet standards.


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