Generating controversy

Generating controversy in a move that smacks of collusive manoeuvring by policymakers and the industry, diesel engine-driven agricultural pump sets have been exempted from the air emission standards notified by the Union ministry of environment and forests (mef) in May 2002. Known as the Environment (Protection) Second Amendment Rules, 2002, the final set of regulations for off-road diesel engines up to 800 kilowatts (kw) capacity has little in common with the technical committee’s (tc) recommendations.

The Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb) had earlier set up the tc to suggest air emission norms for diesel engine-run generator sets (gensets) and agricultural pump sets. It is said that the suggested guidelines for the latter were dropped at the last moment, due to pressure from the small-sized diesel engine manufacturers.

Clearly, the ramifications of this move in the context of these engines entering the genset market on the sly have been glossed over. Another deviation is the relaxation of emission limits for small-sized diesel engines up to 50 kw capacity.

The mef, however, refuses to accept responsibility for toning down the standards. “The committee in its wisdom recommended the changes in the standards which were accepted by the mef,” claims B V Subramaniam, director, mef. Chairperson of the tc, H B Mathur, on his part, contends that “even though the ministry has every right to change the committee’s recommendations, it must also have the courage of conviction to own up to its actions”.
Arm-twisting tactics What actually transpired, according to committee members, was that the small-sized diesel engine manufacturers approached the mef expressing their inability to implement such standards. Further, they warned the ministry that if these norms were thrust upon them, they would pass on the financial burden to the farmers.

“How could the committee recommend such stringent norms without consulting us? We have not even carried out test results and do not agree with the recommended norms,” said S Mohindru, general manager, Usha International Limited, New Delhi. Mohindru is also a member of the Indian Diesel Engine Manufacturers Association (idema), which has several small-sized diesel engine makers as its constituents. “Any move to enforce standards would mean a jump in the cost of pump sets

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