The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Thursday asked German car manufacturer Volkswagen to deposit Rs 100 crore with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) by 5 pm tomorrow in emission case or else face stringent action, including the arrest of carmaker’s country MD and seizure of its properties, PTI reported.
The NGT had constituted a four-member expert panel on November 16 last year to submit a report on the matter in the wake of the 2015 global emission scandal or ‘Dieselgate’ when the Volkswagen was found guilty of intentionally programming its diesel engines with cheat devices to meet US regulatory standards but actually emit up to 40 times more Nitrous Oxides (NOx) in real-world conditions.
The expert panel report accessed by The Indian Express, and filed on December 24, 2018, has estimated that Volkswagen cars released approximately 48.678 tonnes of NOx in 2016. The panel, which used Delhi as the base city to calculate the damages, has “estimated cost of health damage due to additional NOx from the Volkswagen group vehicles is approximately Rs 171.34 crore”. The panel had asked the car manufacturer to deposit Rs 100 crore within a month.
The penalty was determined on the basis of the 3.27 lakh Volkswagen cars that had deceit software installed in India.
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.
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.
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 panel had stated that “longer exposures to elevated concentrations of NO2 may contribute to the development of asthma and potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections”. NOx gases react to form smog and acid rain and are central to the formation of fine particles (PM) and ground-level ozone, both of which are associated with adverse health effects.
The proposed fine is the latest blow to the company, which is facing criminal and civil penalties for installing illegal software in diesel engines to cheat strict US pollution norms. In the US and Canada, where proceedings are pending, the company has agreed to pay $2.8 billion to an environmental trust. The NGT, in its order, had said: “It also pleaded guilty to three federal criminal felony counts and paid USD 2.8 billion criminal penalty.”