Volkswagen is a leading German car manufacturer in the world. Earlier today the National green Tribunal slammed a fine of Rs. 500 Crore on Volkswagen on account of their cheating with the emission tests. This is not the first time that they have been accused of doing so. Such allegations were also made in the US against them.

In 2015 December they had announced a recall of their 3,32,700 vehicles for testing and fixing the emission software. This was owing to the fact that the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) had found that the cars of Volkswagen had 2.6 times more on-road emissions than the others. They had then accepted the use of ‘defect device’ in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other parts of the world.

Following these defaults on the part of Volkswagen, a panel was established by the NGT in November 2016 to find out the truth of the allegations made and to calculate the estimated amount of damage done to the environment. The panel told the NGT that a major source of nitrogen oxide is the automobile industry. The panel directed the German company to pay Rs. 100 Crore as an interim measure to be paid to the Central Pollution Control Board until the pendency of the matter continues.

Due to the lack of technology and accurate statistics the panel could only make an estimate of the damage done to the environment by these defective cars. The panel said that in Delhi about 435 tonnes of nitrogen oxide is assumed to be released.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), ARAI and National Environment Engineering Research Institute estimated the cost of health damage due to Volkswagen to be approximately Rs. 171.3 Crore. The said amount is likely to be utilized in improving the air quality in the National Capital Region and other polluted cities of India.

The Company however still denies the use of ‘cheat devices’ and contends that they have not violated the BS-IV norms in their diesel cars since the results are based on the on-road testing for which there are no stipulated standards to be followed.

The case was then referred to the National Green Tribunal based on the observations of the panel and the special committee. The NGT Bench comprised of the NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel who gave the following decision. The tribunal enhanced the Rs. 171.3 Crore to Rs. 500 Crore as a means of ‘creating deterrence’. The Tribunal has directed Volkswagen to pay the said amount within a period of 2 months.

LEGAL NEWS WRITER – SHRISHTI MITTAL.

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