The National Green Tribunal (NGT) of India has fined Volkswagen for damaging the environment using the ‘cheat device’ in the Volkswagen Group’s diesel cars in India. The Rs 500 crore fine has to be deposited within two months said, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel who passed the judgement. Earlier, the NGT asked Volkswagen to deposit Rs 171.34 crore, but the amount has been increased now.
The money collected from the fine will be used to improve the air quality of the National Capital Region and other highly polluted areas. In November 2018, NGT asked Volkswagen to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for environmental damage caused by the cheat device used by the manufacturer in its diesel cars.
NGT constituted a joint team comprising of the CPCB. Ministry of Heavy Industries, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute earlier recommended a fine of Rs. 171.34 crore for the health damages caused by the air pollution in Delhi due to the excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) released by the Volkswagen diesel cars with the cheat device. They calculated that a total of 48.678 tonnes of NOx was released in 2016 in the national capital alone by the VW cars.
Earlier, the fine was recommended only for the metro city – Delhi. It is not known on what basis the new amount has been calculated. It is entirely possible that the panel took Delhi as the base city and figured the original fine amount. The values taken for calculation might be considered conservative because of the lack of methodologies to estimate an overall impact of the nitrogen oxide on the environment of the country, which is why only the health damages were taken into account.
The bench said in the reporting,
“Estimated cost of health 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 the environment in India and hence only health damages are valued. Further, the valuation is for Delhi considering that the value of NOx is 435 tonnes released in the city. This is assumed because of lack of data on the geographical locations and plying regions of Volkswagen vehicles which have caused the damage and for all the years which have been considered for damage,
The panel was appointed in November 2018 to asses whether the German manufacturer has exceeded the prescribed environmental norms and calculate a fair estimate of the damage caused by the diesel cars with a cheat device.
The Volkswagen Group has released an official statement and said,
“The Volkswagen Group in India reiterates that all cars from the Group are compliant with the emission norms defined in India. The Group awaits the copy of the order of Honourable NGT. The Volkswagen Group will challenge the order of the Honourable NGT before the Honourable Supreme Court.”