Diesel-guzzling SUVs leave Ramesh fuming

Green agenda

Diesel-guzzling SUVs  leave Ramesh fuming

To own too many big cars is criminal according to him, as they not only add heavily to greenhouse gas emissions but also probably eat into a subsidy on diesel, in place to benefit farmers.

“It’s criminal in India with the type of society we are in. The luxurious growth of large-sized vehicles and SUVs in our country is really a cause for great concern,” he said at a workshop on low-carbon transport here. The owners of these vehicles in India include politicians, businessmen, sports and film personalities.

The diesel-guzzling SUVs are put on roads taking advantage of a government subsidy on diesel to benefit farming and heavy duty transport sectors. The subsidy, though reduced by two rupees when petrol prices were deregulated last June, is still incentive enough for the affluent to go for SUVs.

Subsidy misuse

Angered at the ‘misuse’ of this subsidy, Ramesh said the trend cost state-owned oil retailing companies Rs 3 on every litre of diesel. In the current fiscal, the loss could be anywhere upwards of

Rs 20,000 crore. He also raised doubts whether the subsidy was actually benefitting those for whom it is in place—the poor and the farmers. To him, the best way to curb the trend is to impose a stiff penalty rather than a blanket ban on the use of big cars. “We seriously need to give a thought to a fiscal policy regime that discourages use of heavy cars and SUVs particularly,” he said.

Another concern the high number of SUVs on roads brings is the rate of greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is probably going to be the most significant in the transportation sector. The stock may be only 7.5 per cent on Friday, but at the rate at which it is growing, by the year 2025, transport sector could well account for anywhere between 14-15 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ramesh, adding there was a need to enforce mandatory fuel economy standards.

The implementation of a mandatory fuel standard norm has been repeatedly delayed by the UPA government, allegedly due to turf war between ministries. The standard has been finalised and will be notified by mid 2011 under the Energy Conservation Act, and not under the Motor Vehicle Act, Ramesh said.

This will be KMPL standard route that will depend on weight of the car and size of the engine. For the first six months, it is likely to be voluntary after which it would be mandatory for automobile companies.

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