Adil’s blog: The automotive industry is an easy target when it comes to pollution

Adil’s blog: The automotive industry is an easy target when it comes to pollution

So we knew that Delhi is one of the most polluted, if not the most polluted, city in the world and that is why the greens hammered the automotive industry in the country when it should have been the powers that be that should have faced their ire. So whatever happened about a year ago leading to immediate and instantaneous adoption of Euro IV or Bharat Stage IV  emission legislation as of April 1, 2018 is a well-known inflection point in the history of Indian air quality and of course automotive industry. What everyone failed to appreciate and speak up about was the fact that limited BS IV adoption nationwide was caused by failure of the government to deliver BS IV compatible fuel to all corners of the country. Frankly, BS IV should have been in force about four years earlier!

History repeated itself about midway in November 2017 when all out of nowhere Delhi got engulfed in killer smog and one could see it all coming. And not all of it had to do with automotive pollutants but suddenly the tunes and the music and the lyrics of the song changed and again a hapless if not to say spineless leadership of the automotive world kept quiet when they shouldn’t have!

The smog caused by Diwali firecrackers, crop waste being burnt in the Punjab and Haryana plus fierce desert sandstorms blowing in the direction of the National Capital Region suddenly showed up the greens and their lot the one distinct fact that all pollution devils aren’t the outcome of automotive usage, plain and simple!

However, this fact is well known and scientifically researched but what has the automotive community done? Not a squeak out of this collective lot who are out to pursue individual lobbying with the power centres and not speak up together when the situation called for that. Barring a very passionate few (you could count them on the fingers of one hand and yet have three fingers up for grab s – yes that’s how dismal was the attempt!) who spoke up.

I was amazed that no one else was vocal about this menace – not of pollution alone but of beating the industry black and blue for ills not of its making or doing! This was the chance to remind the greens of how much the automotive world has done to arrest pollution, something that hasn’t been matched even for a fraction by the rest. Yet it is the automotive industry and users who are always painted black!

It was also the time to remind the concerned ministers to try and “band bajao” the real culprits with the same zeal and ferocity with which they have treated a sector that contributes to the country’s GDP in double digits and also delivers livelihood to millions. Instead of doing this, the powers that be indulged in even more ridiculous polishing of their own vulnerable veneer – a knee jerk move to all of a sudden fast forward adoption of BS VI fuel to the Delhi NCR from April 1, 2018 thus leapfrogging the mandate for BS VI by two whole years and that too in a matter of four months and some days!

Guys the automotive sector is a long lead industry and has been going about doing the best as per the regulations framed along with the quality of fuel promised to them. The present minister of surface transport and heavy industry is a well-meaning sort but he needs to play his martial threats to others who are responsible for well over 85 per cent of the pollution and not the automotive industry which if going by the Kanpur IIT study accounted for just about 11 per cent of total pollution.

Yet the automotive industry is the softest target and the easiest one to crush all so that the politicos come out smelling of roses at some quick fire decisions taken in the name of good governance. What truly took the cake though was the spineless approach of our industry with the industry association SIAM welcoming the government’s move to make BS VI compatible fuel available! Somehow this lost them not just the moral high ground to indulge in a proper dialogue with the government but also made it appear in the state it really finds itself in: browbeaten!

P.S.: I welcome Piyush Goyal’s statement of phasing out diesel locomotives from the Indian Railways within the next three years. I do hope that we first have sustained and seamless flow of electrical energy for household, commercial and industrial uses before we get to this form of energy for transportation purposes. Also while lauding the government’s intent to go all-electric, let me caution them about taking the terminology too seriously. The world and its granny is speaking about electrified cars and not electric cars over the next decade to 15 years and the quicker we use this approach the better otherwise are we going to subscribe to dirty electricity by just shifting pollution from urban to rural? Think, guys think and then come up with answers rather than diktats!

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