Centre backs car-makers before key NGT hearing

  • HT Correspondent
  • Updated: May 31, 2016 10:08 IST

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) seeking directions on not extending to other cities the Supreme Court-mandated ban on registration of vehicles with diesel engines of capacity larger than 2,000cc in the NCR.

The plea moved by the heavy industries ministry came on the eve of a crucial hearing by the tribunal on air pollution and the diesel vehicle ban on Tuesday.

The ministry asked the tribunal not to apply restrictions in any city on the sale and registration of new vehicles that comply with statutory emission norms irrespective of the fuel used.

“The department of heavy industry is of the view that the extension of the above ban imposed by the Supreme Court to 11 cities by the NGT would have adverse effect on the momentum of growth of auto industry,” the ministry said in its plea.

The tribunal slammed state governments on Monday for making “a joke” of its orders and took the Central Pollution Control Board to task for submitting “half-baked” data.

The green court directed 11 states to provide information on their most polluted areas and vehicle density in major cities by Tuesday, failing which bailable warrants would be issued against their chief secretaries.

“Every day you (states) say we want to seek instructions. We want a clear stand on ambient air quality, human population and vehicle density. If the states fail to produce the data by tomorrow, we will issue bailable warrants against the chief secretaries of all states. You have made a joke of our orders. Be prepared to face consequences now,” NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.

In the past five years, Rs 60,00070,000 crore has been invested in increasing capacity for diesel car manufacturing. Almost every carmaker bet on India’s growing appetite for diesel vehicles.

From under 20% in 2012, the share of diesel cars sold went above 40% in 2015. Though the shrinking price differential between diesel and petrol has resulted in reverse dieselisation, any move to extend the ban could hurt automakers.

“It will lead to a lot of uncertainty, unemployment and will affect the investment decisions of companies,” said Abdul Majeet, partner at consultancy firm PwC.

T he Supreme Cour t in December banned the registration of diesel SUVs and private cars with engine capacity of 2,000 cc in the National Capital Region until March 31 this year. Subsequently, it extended the ban to April 30. On April 30, the apex court maintained the status quo till the matter was taken up by it after the summer vacation.

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