Just after a day since the ban on diesel vehicles was imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Delhi, India’s largest utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra has come out strongly in opposition of the move calling it ‘harsh’.
Speaking to journalists over a telephonic conference today, Dr Pawan Goenka, president (Auto & Farm sectors) at M&M, said that singling out and stopping registrations of new diesel passenger vehicles in Delhi will not solve the rampant problem of pollution in the capital city.
“The fact that Delhi has an air pollution issue is undisputed and that strict action is required is also undisputed. NGT has a mandate and if one was to look at that mandate in isolation, one cannot agree with whatever they are doing. Diesel vehicles have become the favourite whipping boys and are looked at as the biggest villains in our country,” said Dr Goenka.
IIT Kanpur study findings challenge NGT ban logic
Quoting a recent study conducted by IIT Kanpur on the levels of pollution in Delhi, he explained that passenger vehicles contribute to 4% of particulate matter (PM) emissions to Delhi, out of which approximately 85% is contributed by vehicles which do not meet BS IV norms while BS IV-compliant vehicles contribute only 0.5% to the total PM 2.5 load in Delhi. He added that a single old diesel vehicle going off the road is equal to emissions from five new BS IV vehicles.
Dr Goenka added that based on the data available, the NGT should have deliberated with the industry before ordering the ban. “I believe that all the hard work done by our scientists and engineers in the last 15 years in making our vehicles cleaner has been thrown out of the window by this order.”
Speaking about the state of confusion among customers and automakers themselves, Dr Goenka said that the sudden ban will add to the uncertainty in doing business in India. He added that since Delhi is a big market, the ban would obviously have an impact on the company’s sales.
“Clearly over the last few years there have been a lot of investments made by us and the industry in developing diesel technologies in India, both in terms of product development and on setting up capacities. Therefore, there is disappointment and uncertainties over what technologies would be accepted in the future. This certainly will not help in the efforts to create a positive business environment in the country,” he said.
When asked whether M&M would challenge the NGT’s banning of diesel vehicles, he said that the industry will deliberate on the matter and then decide whether a legal recourse is required or not. However, he clarified that M&M on its own will not challenge the decision.
“We are not looking at legal steps right now. We have respect for our judiciary system and NGT is doing what is right according to them. My only request is that they consider the publically available data on the matter and then decide whether the ban on BS IV vehicles will actually help or not,” he said.
Upgrading to next-gen emission norms
Sharing some statistics on the reduction emissions in the last 15 years, Dr Goenka said that particulate matter emissions have come down by 82% and NoX emissions by 51% after upgrading to BS IV vehicles. He added that PM emissions will further come down by another 80% from the current levels by the time BS V is implemented (by 2019) and NoX emissions will also come down by 36%.
To conclude, Dr Goenka said that selectively banning diesel vehicles would not provide a solution to the menace of pollution in Delhi and the government should look at upgrading to next-generation emission norms rather than taking extreme steps like bans.
On a lighter note, Dr Goenka said considering that diesel, petrol as well as CNG harm the environment in various ways, all fossil fuels should be banned and only electric vehicles should run on the roads. Even if this were to happen, M&M would stand to be the biggest beneficiary with its Mahindra e20!