Delhi teacher moves green tribunal against Volkswagen

European automobile maker Volkswagen, which has been accused of flouting emission norms, has been slapped with another petition — this time, by a Delhi-based teacher.

The National Green Tribunal is set to hear the petition against the Indian subsidiary of Volkswagen. The petition, filed last Friday, accuses Volkswagen and its group companies in India of ‘polluting the environment’. The first hearing is scheduled for Monday.

A company spokesperson said Volkswagen India had not received any communication from the tribunal on the matter.

Sanjeev Ailawadi, husband of petitioner Saloni Ailawadi, a teacher at Montfort School, Delhi, said, “Nitrogen dioxide found in Volkswagen cars is nine times higher than prescribed limits and so far very little action has been taken. Volkswagen is dumping obsolete technology in India.”

The petition states that Saloni’s father, S C Munjal, has been diagnosed from cancer, which is in its fourth stage. “It is well established that air pollution is a major cause of cancer...,” the petition said.

The petitioner has asked the tribunal to direct the Union of India, ministry of environment and the pollution control board to disallow manufacturing, assembly and sale of vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen and its group companies “until it is established that the same are not in contravence of statutory and prescribed norms as applicable in India and that the same are not employing any deceit devices or technology as has been found and admitted to be being used by them in US and Europe”.

It has also sought a stop in production, assembly and sale of vehicles whose models or variants have been found to be in violation of prescribed norms by the Automotive Research Association of India or United States Environmental Protection Agency.

As per the ARAI test results Volkswagen's Jetta and Vento, Skoda's Octavia and Audi A4 and A6 were found to be emitting more NOx than expected. The tests were conducted by 11 vehicles made by VW in India many of which are merely assembled whereas their main manufacturing is done in Germany.

Volkswagen, which had met officials from the ministry of heavy industries and of ARAI last month, had agreed to fully co-operate in the matter with the authorities. It was agreed that Volkswagen will present its results from the evaluations regarding the diesel engine emissions topic by the end of this month. "The next steps would depend on the findings from these evaluations", the German automaker had stated.

Volkswagen is in the process of recalling 11 million cars globally for irregular carbon-dioxide emissions using a cheating software. VW is conducting its own tests to check for irregularities. Data from its India subsidiary is believed to have to been sent to Germany and a reply is expected before the end of this month.

"Volkswagen India has not received any communication from The National Green Tribunal on this matter," said the VW India spokesperson.

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