The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday slammed Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore, imposed on the German auto major for damaging the environment through use of ‘cheat device’ in its diesel cars, and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours failing which its directors would be sent to jail.
“The order of the NGT is already under challenge before the Supreme Court. However, the Volkswagen Group India will comply with the order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) and deposit the money, as directed,” a company statement said.
Incidentally, the green panel on November 16, 2018 had said that use of ‘cheat device’ by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and directed it to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).It had also stated the deposit was only an interim measure and constituted a joint team of representatives of the CPCB, Ministry of Heavy Industries, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
The four-member committee has also recommended Rs 171.34-crore fine on Volkswagen as “health damages” for causing air pollution in Delhi due to excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5PM Friday.
“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time. You are in default. If you do not deposit the amount, we will order arrest and detention of your directors,” the bench, comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after depositing the amount.
The apex tribunal also said that in case the amount is not deposited by Friday, the directors of the company will be sent to jail.
It deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.
During the hearing, advocate Sanjeev Ailawadi, appearing for the petitioner in the case, Saloni Ailawadi, drew the attention of the tribunal towards the report of the four-member committee, and said the panel has neither consulted any specialist nor considered his objections before arriving at the conclusion.