Emission ‘Cheat Device’: NGT slaps ₹500 crore fine on Volkswagen India

A fine of Rs 500 crore on German auto major Volkswagen has been slapped by National Green Tribunal Thursday for damaging the environment through the use of “cheat device” in its diesel cars in India.

Volkswagen had admitted to the use of ”defeat device” in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets to manipulate emission test results. A ”cheat” or ”defeat device” is software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the cars globally.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed Volkswagen to deposit the amount within two months. It had also 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, which had recommended a ₹171.34-crore fine on Volkswagen as “health damages” for causing air pollution in Delhi due to excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

Earlier in December 2015, Volkswagen India recalled 3,23,700 lakh vehicles in India to fix the emission software after ARAI found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the applicable BS-IV norms.

However, Volkswagen said that the test results were based on “on road testings” for which there were no prescribed standards and it did not violate the BS-IV norms.

In November last year, the green panel directed Volkswagen to deposit an interim amount of ₹ 100 crores with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) after the allegations that it had used “cheat devices” in emission tests for its diesel vehicles.