NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal on Monday sought response from the Centre and German automobile major Volkswagen on a plea seeking a ban on sale of its vehicles in the country for allegedly flouting emission norms. The move comes at a time when concerns over rising air pollution levels in the city are increasing.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Central Pollution Control Board, Volkswagen India and Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). They are expected to reply by December 23.
The direction came on a plea by south Delhi residents - Satvinder Singh Sodhi, Vellore Ramesh Neelakantan, Deepit Singh and a private firm - seeking a court directive to restrain Volkswagen India and its group companies from selling vehicles fitted with ‘cheat’ devices. Contending that the air quality in Delhi has deteriorated to such an extent that people are being advised to leave the city and install air-purifiers in their homes and offices, the petition sought payment of damages for restoration of environment.
Referring to a newspaper report, which stated that Volkswagen has initiated a voluntary recall of 3.24 lakh cars in India, the petition has sought directions to produce all relevant documents and details on the basis of which they have decided to recall the vehicles and their proposed action in respect of the recalled vehicles.
“Direct Volkswagen to provide comparative technical specifications (power, torque etc) in respect of each model of the passenger vehicles sold by them between that which existed before the proposed action in respect of the recalled vehicles is completed and after the same has been completed,” the plea said.
On Nov 30, a Delhi-based school teacher moved a similar plea and referring to ARAI’s report, alleged that Volkswagen in India was “polluting the environment in blatant disregard to regulations’ by selling vehicles, which produce nitrogen oxide 9 times higher than the prescribed limit.