Ramesh wants penalty on SUVs and diesel cars

Voluntary fuel efficiency standards expected by year-end


Neha Sethi | November 12, 2010

Environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday said that India needs to give thought to a fiscal policy regime that imposes penalty or higher duty on special utility vehicles (SUVs) and diesel cars. “It is criminal in India to have SUVs and I get angry when I see them on the road,” the environment minister said while speaking at a conference on ‘Promoting low carbon transport in India’ in New Delhi. "We can not ask people to buy or not to buy a particular car. But through an effective fiscal policy, we can certainly have an impact," Ramesh added.

He said that the transport sector contributes to 7.5 percent of the green house gas emissions in India and urban road transport makes up 90 percent of this. “We expect the emissions to double or go up to around 14-15 percent in the next 15-20 years hence we need to do something immediately,” Ramesh added.

The minister said that the immediate task was to have fuel efficiency standards, which will be notified under the energy conservation act. “We expect to have voluntary fuel efficiency standards by the end of this year. And we hope to make it mandatory by the middle of next year,” he added.

Talking about the standards, he said, the standards will be based on kilometre per litre (KMPL) standards and that the standards will be graded and not uniform.

The quality of fuel is also critically linked to standards, Ramesh said. “The country has made a huge investment of Rs 40,000 crore in refineries in the country,” he said adding that the vehicle manufacturers can’t use the excuse of poor fuel.

Ramesh said that as far as subsidies in the fuel sector were concerned, they should be limited to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and for kerosene but not be extended for diesel.

On the option of using ethanol in the country, he said that the option of using ethanol is not good as we are a ‘land hungry, people surplus country’.

The minister said that he wasn’t convinced about the panacea of electric cars. “Electricity production uses coal, which comes from forests,” he said. Ramesh said though the technology to reduce emissions from the transport sector will take time but the policy can be addressed immediately. “What we need to do is to get our policy framework right, which is not good as of now as it discriminates against public transport, encourages SUVs and diesel cars and there are no standards for fuel efficiency,” he added.

Ramesh said that the importance of railways in the country also cannot be underestimated. “Railways have been starved of investment and technology. Our country can’t see heavy dependence on the road sector,” the minister said. 



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