The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Thursday slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.
"Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time," the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after depositing the amount. The apex tribunal also said that in case the amount is not deposited by Friday, the directors of the company will be sent to jail.
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.
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 and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The NGT had said that even though the standards may be stricter in other countries, "the very fact of deceit devices being installed by the manufacturers calls for an inference of prima-facie violation of environment".
The tribunal had constituted a joint team of representatives of the CPCB, Ministry of Heavy Industries, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, to give its expert opinion on whether the manufacturer has exceeded the prescribed environmental norms and fair estimate of the damage caused to the environment.
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. The tribunal had said ARAI found Nitrogen oxide emissions to be five to nine times higher than the laboratory test limits. The tribunal said that even if there is 100 per cent recall, for the past violation of norms, the auto manufacturer cannot avoid its responsibility.
A ''cheat'' or ''defeat device'' is a software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the cars globally. 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.