Ra­jiv Ba­jaj Blasts Auto Cos on Emis­sion Norms

Com­pa­nies had enough time to clear in­ven­tory of old ve­hi­cles, says Ba­jaj Auto man­ag­ing di­rec­tor

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Our Bureau

Mumbai | Delhi: Ra­jiv Ba­jaj, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ba­jaj Auto, has fired a fresh salvo against in­dus­try peers who are lob­by­ing for a grace pe­riod in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of new fuel emis­sion norms till old stocks are ex­hausted.

He termed it as “down­right cheat­ing,” and said au­to­mo­bile com­pa­nies had enough time to clear in­ven­tory. The gov­ern­ment’s cut-off date of April1, was for sales and reg­is­tra­tion of Bharat Stage IV ve­hi­cles and not in­tended just for pro­duc­tion of BS-IV ve­hi­cles, which the rest of the in­dus­try, would like to in­ter­pret, in their favour, ac­cord­ing to Ba­jaj.

“Old habits die hard. Our in­dus­try has been con­di­tioned to be pushed, kick­ing and scream­ing into ad­her­ing to new norms,” Ba­jaj rued. He has ar­gued that the gov­ern­ment has to give a strong mes­sage by not giv­ing any amnesty and, if at all any short-term amnesty is giv- en, it should be ac­com­pa­nied with a “size­able fi­nan­cial penalty.”

BS-IV refers to emis­sion stan­dards set by the gov­ern­ment to reg­u­late the out­put of air pol­lu­tants from in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines. Ba­jaj said the two-wheeler maker feels wronged as it made the changeover tak­ing the dead­line se­ri­ously and is ready with BS-IV com­pli­ant ve­hi­cles.

“We are al­ready sell­ing BS-IV ve­hi­cles. Those who have cho­sen to be com­pla­cent will sell their prod­ucts which are pol­lut­ing at lower prices. This is not fair,” he said.

Ob­vi­ously, Ba­jaj is in a mi­nor­ity among his peer group. Vishnu Mathur, di­rec­tor gen­eral, So­ci­ety of In­dian Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers (SIAM), strongly dis­agrees with the view. “When­ever there has been a change in emis­sion norms, it has al­ways been on the ba­sis of date of man­u­fac­ture. Even this time, the no­ti­fi­ca­tion is very clear that the pan-In­dia im­ple­men­ta­tion of BS-IV emis­sion norms from April 1, 2017, will be as per the date of man­u­fac­ture of ve­hi­cles and not as per the date of sale or reg­is­tra­tion.” SIAM may write to the gov­ern­ment on this is­sue and Ba­jaj Auto will ask the in­dus­try body to ex­clude the com­pany from among the sig­na­to­ries to the let­ter.

With Ba­jaj fac­to­ries pro­duc­ing BS-IV ve­hi­cles, which will cost about ₹ 1,000 to ₹ 7,000 more, there is a fear that his com­peti­tors models, which are of BS-III vin­tage, may be cheaper in the mar­ket place. “We can­not al­ways be a mute spec­ta­tor,” Ba­jaj added.

Ac­cord­ing to him, this time the gov­ern­ment had set two dead­lines. From April 1, 2016, new prod­ucts had to be BSIV com­pli­ant. The sec­ond dead­line, of April 1, 2017, was only for old models. So a year was good enough to be ready.

“The in­dus­try is used to take the gov­ern­ment for granted and the gov­ern­ment is often buck­ling un­der pres­sure,” he said.

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