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Sisodia Alleges Javadekar Postponed Three Meetings on Pollution as Delhi Govt, Centre Engage in War of Words

Manish Sisodia's remarks came on a day Javadekar alleged that CM Arvind Kejriwal, by asking school students to write letters to his Punjab and Haryana counterparts over pollution caused due to stubble burning, was 'politicising' the issue.

PTI

Updated:November 2, 2019, 7:53 PM IST
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Sisodia Alleges Javadekar Postponed Three Meetings on Pollution as Delhi Govt, Centre Engage in War of Words
File photo of Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

New Delhi: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar of postponing three meetings with state environment ministers, saying on Saturday that either he has no time or does not consider treating the national capital's poor air quality a priority.

Sisodia's remarks came on a day Javadekar alleged that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, by asking school students to write letters to his Punjab and Haryana counterparts over pollution caused due to stubble burning, was "politicising" the issue and presenting them as "villains".

The first meeting was cancelled on September 12, the second one on October 17 and the third on October 19, the deputy chief minister claimed, but did not clarify meetings with which state environment ministers were cancelled.

"I want to ask the Centre for how long will the people of Delhi breathe this poisonous air. Either he has no time or does not consider treating the national capital's poor air quality a priority," Sisodia told reporters.

He also said that farmers in neighbouring states do not have any means of getting rid of crop stubble, and that is the reason why they are forced to burn it.

"The Centre has made 63,000 machines (to stop stubble burning) available in two years. How will it help 26 lakhs farmers? With this speed, is it a programme for 50-60 years? If it is so, what should the people of Delhi-NCR do for next 50-60 years?" the deputy chief minister asked.

He further claimed that the cost of operating the machines was so high that even those farmers who have it prefer stubble burning.

Delhi has been battling alarming levels of pollution since Diwali with the city recording the worst air quality of the season on Friday.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), about 46 per cent of pollution in Delhi on Friday was caused due to stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

This led Delhi-NCR's air quality to touch 'severe plus' category, prompting authorities to shut schools till November 5, ban all construction activities and declare a "public heath emergency".

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also wrote to Javadekar on Saturday, seeking his intervention into pollution-related problems and work on a concrete plan to deal with the issue of stubble burning.

"What is the total number of machines required in each of the three states to ensure complete stoppage of stubble burning?" he asked.

Kejriwal noted that the high level of pollution was not only a health hazard for the citizens, but it also shows India in a poor light in the eyes of visiting dignitaries.

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also appealed to Javadekar requesting him to convene a meeting of chief ministers of Delhi and neighbouring states to prepare a joint strategy to address the problem of severe pollution in the National Capital Region.

Without naming anyone, Khattar also criticised the "growing tendency" on the part of some stakeholders to "play petty politics" on the issue.

The chief minister, in a telephonic conversation with Javadekar earlier in the day, requested him to convene a meeting, preferably on Sunday, to prepare a well thought-out strategy that would synergise the efforts of different organisations and the governments in the region.

"The ongoing public health emergency in NCR is a matter of serious concern for all of us," he said.

To alleviate the suffering of people, there is a need for coordinating the efforts of all the stakeholders to tackle the issue in a more sensitive and responsible manner, Khattar said in an official statement here.

He said as no single person, organisation or government can improve the quality of air in the NCR, "playing politics" on this serious situation is unfortunate and, in itself, a matter of concern.

Following up his conversation with a letter, Khattar said the meeting of all chief ministers and environment ministers of the states concerned would help evolve an actionable plan and a joint strategy to address the serious situation and to mitigate the suffering and hardships of people.

Kejriwal had claimed that Delhi had turned into a "gas chamber" due to smoke arising out of crop burning in Punjab and Haryana.

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