Hours after Tata Motors boss Ratan Tata said his group's Rs 1 lakh car would not give "nightmares" to environmentalists RK Pachauri and Sunita Narain, the two green activists held separate press conferences to reiterate that the small car would spell doom for traffic and pollution management in the country.
The two, however, did not accuse Tata Motors of clogging the roads with cars and the air with pollutants. Instead, both blamed the government for failing to provide an efficient public transport system, which they said was forcing people to depend on private vehicles for transport.
With more than 1,000 vehicles being added to roads in cities like Delhi and Bangalore every day, Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment said the car would lead to increase in pollution levels and congestion.
"We are making people car-dependent rather than providing them with a sound and reliable public transport system," she said, accusing auto manufacturers of manipulating "weak" regulations on safety and emissions.
RK Pachauri, who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which won the last Nobel Peace Prize, blamed the government for its flawed automobile policy rather than car manufacturers for introducing a slew of small and big cars. Pachauri said the policy was leading to an increase in personal vehicles on the roads.
He said though he was not against the small car, he opposed excessive usage of cars in the absence of a reliable public transport system. "I would have been happier if Tata Motors would have introduced a good and a cheap bus for strengthening the public transport system."
He said the new Tata car may be Euro-IV compliant but will add to pollution levels in cities with an increase in traffic congestion. "The increase in waiting time at the traffic signals adds to air pollution levels."
Pachauri cited a study conducted by his organisation — Tata Energy and Research Institute — in Bangalore which shows an increase in idling time at signals leads to higher pollution levels.
Both Pachauri and Narain asked the government to levy higher taxes on cars as a disincentive for people and instead encourage auto manufacturers to spend more resources in finding public transport solutions.
The day marked a protest by Greenpeace India at Pragati Maidan — where the car was launched at the auto expo — seeking mandatory fuel efficiency norms for the industry. Greenpeace said increases in carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles was a major cause for greater green house gas emissions, leading to severe impact on climate change.