NGT issues notice to Volkswagen on emission norms violation

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today issued notice to the central government and Volkswagen Group on a petition accusing the company of violating India's emission norms and sought a ban on the manufacture and sale of its vehicles in the country.

The tribunal issued notices to the ministry of heavy industries, Central Pollution Control Board, ministry of environment, forest and climate change and Volkswagen's subsidiaries -Skoda Auto AS and Audi AG. The parties have been granted two weeks to file their replies. The next hearing has been fixed for 23 December.

Before issuance of the notice, Swatanter Kumar, chairperson of NGT, questioned the petitioner as to how the tribunal could be seen to have jurisdiction to stop the sale of the vehicles allegedly violating emission norms.

''It must be seen that the pollution being caused is due to flouting of norms by vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen and its subsidiaries and this is the right forum to check this violation,'' said Sanjeev Ailawadi, legal counsel for the petitioner.

According to the petitioner, this had compromised public health and led people to believe that the company, by possessing the licence for manufacturing, assembling and sale in India, was following all rules.

The notice had been issued on a plea moved by a Delhi-based school teacher, whose father is a stage-4 cancer patient. She moved the NGT against Volkswagen, which had already recalled many models across the world after being exposed in an emissions scandal. She sought a ban on the sale of Volkswagen vehicles in India as she said pollution caused by vehicles was among the major causes of cancer.

She said the company stood exposed for installing ''cheating devices'' in their diesel engines that could pass the pollution checks but caused higher emission of nitrogen compounds on roads.

Sanjeev Ailawadi expressed surprise that the centre had issued only a show-cause notice to the company even as it stood exposed.