Overcoming Political Opposition, Compressed Natural Gas Mandates in Delhi (A)

By Saumitra Jha
2012 | Case No. P79A | Length 3 pgs.
In 1985, M.C. Mehta, a lawyer and head of his own environmental NGO, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India to enforce the 1981 Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act in the environs of India’s National Capital Region (NCR). In 1988, World Bank experts had advised the Indian government that given the extent to which air pollution in the National Capital Region came from an increasingly large fleet of passenger vehicles, an effective policy would be to mandate relatively clean compressed natural gas (CNG) in public transportation vehicles. Although the government had actively considered a series of policies, it had failed to implement any. By the early 1990s, New Delhi was the fourth-most polluted city in the world. By June 1998, the sub-particulate matter concentration in Delhi’s air was three times higher than the standards set by India’s Central Pollution Control Board.

Learning Objective

This case draws lessons on managing political incentives from a remarkable policy reform—the successful implementation of compressed natural gas (CNG) mandates, despite widespread private interest group opposition, in all public transportation vehicles in Delhi between 2001 and 2002. It is intended for use in a course on the political and legal environment of business, and is taught in the context of the 4Is framework—providing an introduction to interest group analysis and distributive politics.
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