The auto industry has behaved dishonorably by exploiting a legal loophole to boost the sales of potentially hazardous sport utility vehicles, or SUV’s, leading environmental activist Sunita Narain, of the Centre for Science and Environment, said on the sidelines of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Friday.
Narain rubbished claims by the industry of having improved the technology in diesel engines, saying 'they have not. They have gone in for heavier cars, for SUV’s, which the whole world today is against.'
Narain said the industry is exploiting a loophole in Indian law by selling SUVs for private use.
"Diesel is reserved for the public and poor sector and that’s why the price is always kept low," Narain told HT on the sidelines of the Summit in Delhi.
"Private cars are being allowed to use that same cheap diesel, and that’s clearly something Indian industry has maximized," she said.
"Unless we plug this loophole, your and my health will be compromised," she said, referring to research that suggests diesel release soot into the air, which damages lungs.
Narain threw her support behind environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who drew auto industry ire last week when he said that heavy sport utility vehicles, increasingly popular in India, were “criminal.”
Narain also addressed India’s forest management plans, a global version of which might be agreed to at international climate change negotiations next week. She said that any forest management plan would have to avoid the fate of India’s tiger conservation program.
"We threw people out of forests in the name of conservation," she said of the tiger initiative.
"Climate change should not become another excuse to throw local, indigenous people out of forests in the name of global good," Narain said.