Germany's Daimler-Benz held a workshop on environment-friendly transport in the Capital
THE roar of a V8, the smooth looks of a shark, the power of a freight train, the goggle-eyed gullibility of a citizenry used to driving biscuit tin -- India is a gold mine for automobile manufacturers. An indicator of their serious intent was a closed door workshop on Environment Friendly Technologies in the Transportation Sector organised by the multinational automaker Daimler-Benz in Delhi last month.
The workshop, the first of its kind in India, was sponsored by the Union ministry of environment and forests and included several senior officials from industry, transport and petroleum ministries as participants. In his inaugural speech, Union environment minister Kamal Nath said that India was "in search of sustainable forms of transportation that would meet the mobility requirements of the 21st century".
At the February 17 meet, Daimler-Benz representatives suggested some options to reduce vehicular pollution. N Pelz, environment advisor to Daimler, asserted that the company's diesel driven cars had proved to be more fuel efficient than petrol driven ones. Other delegates said that the latest diesel technology was notably successful in reducing emissions of oxides of nitrogen.
The Daimler team emphasised the need for exploring less polluting fuels as well as developing battery-driven engines. These, and a few other hints, were included in a set of recommendations to the Union environment ministry.
The Indian participants were convinced that for all the talk of the superiority of diesel technology, the Germans were also asking for conditions which would give them easy markets for petrol driven cars as well. A Daimler delegate privately admitted that "cheaper unleaded petrol would help us to increase sales of catalytic convertor equipped cars by as much as 8 to 10 times in India".
Despite this, the idea took root. Officials talked rather of indirect problems. Said an official of the Union petroleum ministry, "Lower duties on unleaded petrol would encourage its use even by those whose vehicles are not equipped for it."
But were any of these problems intractable? Not really, answered the Indians, provided, of course, that help and aid was forthcoming. You accelerate some, you brake some.
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