The National Green Tribunal Friday directed Volkswagen to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the CPCB in a case related to allegations against the German auto major for using ‘cheat device’ in emission tests of its diesel vehicles.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also formed a committee comprising officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Heavy Industries, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Automotive Research Association of India to calculate the actual quantum of the environmental loss in the case.
The green panel directed the committee to submit the report within a month and asked the company and the petitioner in the case to appear before the panel within seven days with their contentions.
The tribunal was hearing pleas filed by a school teacher Saloni Ailawadi and a few others seeking ban on sale of Volkswagen vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.
Reacting on the tribunal’s order a Volkswagen Group spokesperson said: “The Volkswagen Group is compliant with emission norms defined in India. The Group is yet to receive a copy of the order from the NGT. The Volkswagen Group in India will review the order and subsequently challenge the same.”
The automobile giant had earlier submitted a road map before the tribunal to recall over 3.23 lakh vehicles in the country fitted with a ‘defeat device’ meant to fudge emission tests.
A ‘cheat’ or ‘defeat device’ is a software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the cars globally.
The tribunal had earlier directed Volkswagen to file an affidavit on the status of proceedings against it in other countries.
The green panel had also directed that all parties be given a copy of Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India’s (ARAI) 2015 report on emission tests conducted on diesel cars.
The tribunal had earlier asked ARAI to explain the details of tests carried out on diesel cars produced by Volkswagen.
The order had come come after the tribunal was informed that ARAI carried out tests at the instance of Ministry of Heavy Industries and examined 11 BS-IV compliant diesel vehicles of the German company under different conditions.
Volkswagen India had in December 2015 announced the recall of 3,23,700 lakh vehicles in India to fix the emission software after ARAI conducted tests on some models and found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the applicable BS-IV norms.
The automobile giant had admitted to the use of ‘defeat device’ in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets to manipulate emission test results.
After the tests by ARAI, Volkswagen India had undertaken to rejig the software by recalling around 3.23 lakh vehicles fitted with EA 189 diesel engines which were in alleged violation of emission norms.
The company, however, had said that the recall in India was purely voluntary in nature as it did not face any charges regarding violating emission norms in India unlike in the US.
The counsel for the car manufacturer had told the NGT that ARAI, which is being consulted on the redesign of the software, had approved it for only 70 per cent of the 3.23 lakh vehicles.
ARAI, however, had said the Volkswagen had submitted redesigned software for only 70 per cent and was yet to do so for the remaining 30 per cent.