New Delhi: A four-member committee formed by the National Green Tribunal has recommended Rs 171.34 crore fine on German auto major Volkswagen as “health damages” for causing air pollution in Delhi due to excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The expert committee in its report has estimated that Volkswagen cars released approximately 48.678 tonnes of NOx in 2016 in the national capital.
“Estimated cost of heath damage due to additional NOx emissions from the Volkswagen group vehicles is approximately Rs 171.34 crore using a metro city i.e Delhi as a base. The value may be considered conservative due to lack of methodologies for calculating the overall impact of nitrogen oxide on environment in India and hence only health damages are valued. “Further the valuation is for Delhi city considering that the value of NOx is 435 tonnes is released in the city. This is assumed because lack of data on the geographical locations and plying regions of Volkwagen vehicles which have caused the damage and for all the years which have been considered for damage,” the committee has said in its report. Nitrogen oxide is a smog-forming pollutant linked to heart and lung disease.
To challenge NGT
Meanwhile, Volkswagen group on Tuesday said it would object to certain parts of recommendations by a panel formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which has proposed a Rs 171.34-crore fine on the German auto major as “health damages” in an emission scandal. The company insisted that its vehicles were compliant with Indian emission norms and claimed that “the committee appointed by the NGT has accepted that Volkswagen Group India has not violated the permissible limits under BS-IV norms”.
Reacting to the development, Volkswagen Group India spokesperson said vehicles from the group are compliant with emissions norms prescribed in India. The committee, appointed by the NGT, has accepted that Volkswagen Group India has not violated the permissible limits under BS–IV norms, the spokesperson added. “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.
The four-member panel — comprising Automotive Research Association of India Director Rashmi Urdhwareshe, CSIR-NEERI’s chief scientist Nitin Labhsetwar, Department of Heavy Industries Director Ramakant Singh, and Central Pollution Control Board member secretary Prashant Gargava — determined the penalty of Rs 171.34 crore on the basis of 3.27 lakh Volkswagen cars in India that had deceit software installed. The panel was formed by the NGT on November 16 last year to give its expert opinion on the subject whether the manufacturer has exceeded the prescribed environmental norms and fair estimate of the damage caused to the environment.