The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Thursday slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount by 5 pm Friday or face penal action. The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.
A spokesperson of Volkswagen Group India said that all cars of the company are complying with the emission norms in India. “The Volkswagen Group reiterates that all cars from the group are compliant with the emission norms in India. The order of the NGT is already under challenge before the Supreme Court. However, the Volkswagen Group India will comply with the order of NGT and deposit the money, as directed,” Volkswagen Group India spokesperson said.
It was in 2015 in the global emission scandal or “Dieselgate” that the company 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.
On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of “cheat device” by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage. In the same order, Volkswagen was ordered to submit Rs 100 crore by December 16 as an “interim measure”.
The NGT had also set up a four-member expert panel which, as The Indian Express first reported, recommended on December 24 that Volkswagen cars had released approximately 48.678 tonnes of NOx in 2016. The panel, which used Delhi as the base city to calculate damages, has “estimated cost of health damage due to additional NOx from the Volkswagen group vehicles is approximately Rs 171.34 crore”. And had recommended that the company pay this as a “conservative” fine for damage to health caused in India.
In its November 16 order, the NGT had said that Rs 100 crore had been fixed “having regard to the capacity of the enterprise and possible adverse impact on the environment and deposit is only an interim measure, awaiting expert opinion on the subject.”
It added: “Though at this stage we are not assessing the exact amount of liability, having regard to the amount of damages which are to be paid in the other countries and the worth of the company, the liability does not appear to be less than 100 crores by even a conservative estimate.”
The order also pointed to the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) report on the emissions in Volkswagen cars which said that NOx emissions were five to nine times compared to laboratory test limits.
“In view of these results, the Ministry of Heavy Industries directed the Volkswagen to initiate vehicle recall. Accordingly, Volkswagen informed that they would recall 3.2 lakh vehicles and modify software and/or hardware after approval of the authorities,” the order had said.