Union Minister Anant Geete today said the auto industry has the government’s backing on the issue of high-capacity diesel cars, but cautioned it against taking “panga” (messing) with courts that had banned such vehicles.
The remarks followed the comments made by SIAM President Vinod Dasari, who said the industry lost Rs 4,000 crore in eight months following the ban in Delhi-NCR, which was lifted by the Supreme Court earlier this month.
“Vinod Dasari... expressed unhappiness at the position adopted by the court on pollution. I would like to tell Vinod Dasari, don’t take panga with courts. There is no need for you to take this panga,” Geete said while addressing a conference here.
Speaking at the 58th annual session of the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) earlier today, Dasari had said it was “improper information” to the courts coupled with media hype that led to the ban on the diesel vehicles.
“Led by media hype, provided with improper information, the courts decided to ban those vehicles which actually meet the standards set by the government. It is for the first time that when you meet the law, you actually get penalised. The auto industry has lost Rs 4,000 crore in the last eight months,” Dasari said.
He is of the view that everyone wants to regulate the auto industry without looking at the real cause of pollution.
Dasari, who is also MD of Ashok Leyland, added: “I feel everyone wants to regulate the auto industry. Let’s take the Delhi example. Every winter when there is fog, there is a lot of media hype, lots of NGOs get involved. They blame one industry that everyone wants to blame—auto industry.”
The minister, however, sought to calm the nerves of auto manufacturers, saying the government is with them.
“Perhaps for the first time..., four ministries including the department of heavy industry, road transport, forests and environment and petroleum & natural gas, had come together and were discussing the issue of pollution with the court in one voice,” Geete, who holds the portfolio of heavy industries, added.
The Supreme Court has now allowed registration of diesel vehicles of 2,000 cc and above with 1 per cent environment cess. But Dasari doubts if the move will help in curbing the pollution level in the capital.
“After all of this, what happened there is environmental cess of 1 per cent for vehicles that are larger than 2,000 cc. Please tell me, people who buy such vehicles, are they going to stop buying these due to this 1 per cent cess. Is that going to have an impact on Delhi pollution?” Dasari asked.
He regretted that the industry is being singled out whenever there is congestion, pollution or an accident.
Dasari went further, saying less than 20 per cent pollution comes from the auto industry. He added that the industry has several times asked the government to ban old vehicles if it wants to reduce pollution. “Ban vehicles that cause pollution,” Dasari said.