Shocked and concerned by the decision of the National
Green Tribunal (NGT) to ban registration of new diesel vehicles in Delhi, Dr.
Pawan Goenka, Executive Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd has stated that
“diesel vehicles have become the whipping boy”
and are being seen as the “biggest villains”. Dr Goenka was speaking to
the media through telephone conferencing. “Over the years diesel fuel and vehicles
have become a favourite whipping boy in our country," he said. He asked that "when our product is
meeting all laws of the land how can it be banned overnight.”
December 11, 2015, the NGT had banned registration of
new diesel vehicles till January 6, 2016 in Delhi amid rising concerns over
pollution in the city. It also told the government not to renew the
registration of diesel vehicles more than 10 years old. The NGT decision came a
day after Supreme Court said it would examine if diesel vehicles could be
banned in the capital. January 6, 2016 is also the next date of hearing on a
petition against air pollution in the city.
The three prime sources of air pollution in Delhi as well
as NCR, according to NGT are burning of municipal waste, dust generated by
construction and vehicular pollution.
The NGT had addressed the issues related to waste burning and
construction dust in its previous orders. Sadly, waste burning still continues
while construction continues in full force in every corner of Delhi and NCR.
Dr Goenka’s company Mahindra & Mahindra is perhaps
the only automobile major in India that has in its portfolio only diesel
engines and many of its diesel vehicles like Scorpio, XUV 500, the newly
launched TUV 300 and Bolero are extremely popular in Delhi in the passenger car
Admitting that there is a problem on the air quality
front in India, especially New Delhi, Dr Goenka said it was sad that “diesel
vehicle are made to be the villains”. He said while it is true that diesel
vehicles fare the worst in terms of particulate matter (PM), but he pointed out
that CNG and petrol vehicle are no less. He said CNG vehicles fare the worst
when it comes to NOx levels and petrol worst when it comes to CO. “Why not have electric vehicles only?” he
“I am an engineer and as an engineer I only understand
scientific data and cannot be swayed by directional unquantified statements. I
would like to put some facts in front of you. These facts have been talked
about in bits and pieces over a few years.
I believe that all the hard work being done by our engineers and
scientists in the last 15 years to make vehicles cleaner has been thrown out
off the window by one order given by NGT,” Dr Goenka stated.
Putting things in the right perspective, Dr Goenka said
by introducing the BS IV emission norms, the PM level of 2.5 had come down by
82 pc and NOx by 51pc and in going from BS IV to BS V the PM level will come
down by another 80pc and NOx by another 36pc. “The fact is that BS V
implementation has been delayed by almost 3 years from the original plan that
we had because of late introduction of BS IV fuels throughout the country. BS
IV should have come by 2014 as per the original plan and BS V should be coming
about now. But it is delayed by 3 years as BS IV fuels were not available
throughout the country in the time frame,” he explained.
He said the government needs to look at the pollution
issue in a “holistic manner”. “Why not
ban construction,” he said, alluding to the fact that there are a lot more
industries and activities that are causing pollution and banning them was not
the solution. “I find it amazing that diesel vehicle is made culprit,” he said.
“One can say banning diesel will improve the air quality in Delhi but we have
to look at many more things and look at it in a holistic manner. If we were to
ban things then many things can be banned to improve air quality. Why not ban
construction? If you ban construction then air quality will also improve. It is
a ridiculous thing to do but I am just making a point,” he said.
Debate on pollution
started in 1999
Dr Goenka said the debate on pollution was not new and in
fact started in 1999 when the Supreme Court made it clear that no distinction
was to be made between diesel and petrol fuel when it came to curbing
pollution. “In 1999 an application was made to the Supreme Court to ban diesel
vehicles in Delhi and the court made a decision that we implement emission
norms and not look at the fuel diesel or petrol. The court said that BS II
norms should be implemented immediately for diesel and petrol. Therefore the
question of differentiating diesel and petrol was kind of settled by the
Supreme Court in 1999. Since then the emission norms were made tighter for both
diesel and petrol and therefore Idon’t know why once again diesel is being
looked at as the culprit even thought the vehicles sold today are meeting all
the emission norms being prescribed by the Government of India,” he pointed
Commenting on a partly published report brought out by
IIT Kanpur commissioned by the Delhi Government that said passenger vehicles
contribute 4pc PM in Delhi, Dr Goenka noted that “out this 4pc as per our
calculations 85pc is coming from pre BS IV vehicles. That means BS IV
contributes only 0.5pc of the total PM load in Delhi. Once we have a ban on BS
IV vehicles and if we continue with the older vehicles, the air quality gets
worse. The fact is that for every five BS IV vehicles that come to the road if
one pre 2000 vehicle is removed from the road we are PM neutral”.
“In COP 21 our Prime Minister has made a strong appeal to
climate justice and India has committed to 33pc reduction in carbon emission by
2030. Now we all know and have established that diesel vehicles are 20pc more
appreciated when it comes to CO2 emissions. Are you going to completely ignore
that aspect of diesel fuel when climate justice is what has been stated as our
objective by our honourable Prime Minister?
Yes we have an air quality problem in Delhi and the industry has to work
with the regulators and authorities to help solve the problem and we have
worked for the last fifteen years and have been working to reduce emissions in
our vehicles but I find it somewhat amazing that the whole blame today is
coming on diesel vehicles and have been made the culprit for everything wrong
happening in the environment,” he noted.
Dr Goenka stated that consultation will find a solution
and this has to be done in a manner that “we take in consideration all aspects
and not just air quality in Delhi and not single out one villain. This creates
a problem for the industry and consumers buying diesel vehicles”.