Owning up

the Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers (siam) has announced that Indian automobile manufacturers would provide an emissions warranty on all category of vehicles from July 1 2001, in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai, where Euro II emission standards have been implemented. Warranty would be given for every part of the vehicle, which can affect the emissions. This would include the fuel system, exhaust system, engine system and evaporative emissions control system. The industry has gone beyond the warranty given on catalytic converters, as had been announced by the two-wheeler segment of the industry in January 2000, said Pawan Goenka, chairperson, emissions committee of siam.

"The Indian automobile industry might have been environment unfriendly in the past. But after continuous dialogues with leading non-government organisations and environmentalists, manufacturers are now ready to shoulder their responsibilities,' said Venu Srinivasan, president, siam.

Responding to the announcement, the Centre for Science and Environment (cse) said that the warranty was a major step forward. Anumita Roychowdhury, coordinator of cse' s Right to Clean Air Campaign said that, "while the automobile industry has come forward to take responsibility for the emission performance of the vehicles on road in the face of a strong public demand, the ministry of environment and forests is still in deep slumber'.

The committee, set up under the India's auto oil programme by the Union ministry of environment and forests under the Central Pollution Control Board to recommend future mass emission norms, has not even bothered to include exhaust emission standards and emission warranty in its mandate. This, when the government itself treats in-use vehicles as the whipping boy to shirk responsibilities to improve fuel and engine standards and transport planning to cut emissions. Despite the definite move by the industry, the government is yet to come up with a plan to implement emissions warranty.

It is now clear that the automobile industry has finally owned up to its responsibility. But the success of this warranty programme would certainly depend on the implementation of a proper system of checking the emission fitness of a vehicle on road. As of now the warranty has been formulated on the basis of the incompetent Pollution Under Control Certificate (puc) system. If a vehicle fails a puc test, the manufacturer is supposed to rectify the fault in the vehicle if the failure is because of a defect of some part of the vehicle and not because of improper maintenance.

But the government has not tightened the exhaust emission or puc norms, which were set in 1990 and still apply uniformly to all generation of vehicles