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In home to dirtiest cities, automakers waver on emissions

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Automakers are opposed to the government bringing forward implementation of new vehicle emission norms in India, home to 10 of the world's 15 most polluted cities.

[MUMBAI] Automakers are opposed to the government bringing forward implementation of new vehicle emission norms in India, home to 10 of the world's 15 most polluted cities.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers has met with various ministries to voice concerns with speeding up stricter emissions rules by three years and will oppose a government proposal in writing, Vishnu Mathur, the group's director general, said by phone on Wednesday. Automakers are willing to accelerate standards by one year instead.

The carmakers are resisting as India joins 130 countries in Paris this month trying to seal a climate treaty binding all nations to limit emissions and halt global warming. The broader industry is under scrutiny amid a scandal at Volkswagen AG involving software that cheats emissions tests in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.

"The technology needs to be properly validated and tested to ensure that it's safe for consumers," said Mr Mathur. "We explained the difficulties and the problems with implementing something which is not ready."

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India's government last week sought to bring into effect Bharat Stage 5 emission norms, comparable to Euro-5, for four- wheeled vehicles from April 2019, instead of April 2022. The implementation date for BS-6 also would move to 2021 instead of 2024.

Shares of Maruti Suzuki India, the country's biggest carmaker by volume, rose 0.4 per cent as of 9.33am in Mumbai. Tata Motors Ltd, owner of Jaguar Land Rover and the nation's largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, declined 0.8 per cent, while Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, India's biggest maker of sport utility vehicles, dropped 0.4 per cent. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index slipped 0.3 per cent.

Lax emissions controls on vehicle are a contributor to India's woes with pollution. The nation's Central Pollution Control Board in 2013 reported that some centers conducting vehicle checks had faulty or fake software.

A panel of lawmakers in April found inadequate monitoring and enforcement, staffing shortages in regional environment offices and a declining number of industries that are being inspected in recent years.

New Delhi was the world's most polluted city measured by PM2.5 - tiny, toxic particles that lead to respiratory diseases - with an annual average of 153 micrograms per cubic meter, according to a 2014 World Health Organization database. A reading of 25 or lower is considered safe. Nine other Indian cities rank in the top 15.

India's Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in a draft notification dated Nov 27, said that that it would seek objections and suggestions for the next 30 days on advancing emission norms.

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