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High-level Meeting on Delhi Air Pollution Cancelled at Last Minute as Only 4 Out of 29 Officials Turn up

Unconfirmed reports stated that cricketer and BJP leader Gautam Gambhir, whose name was among the Lok Sabha members summoned for the meeting, skipped the meeting as he is currently on a leisure trip to Indore.


Updated:November 16, 2019, 4:18 PM IST
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A woman wears an anti-pollution mask amid heavy smog as the air quality further dips to 'severe' category, in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
At 7 am on Friday (November 15) morning, the air quality in several areas of the Delhi and NCR, crossed the ‘severe-plus’ category. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi: A high-level meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee called on Friday to address alarming rise in air pollution in the national capital region had to be cancelled at the last minute as most officials did not turn up of it.

Three commissioners of MCD, vice-chairman of DDA and secretary/joint secretary of Environment did not attend the meeting. DDA officials and Municipal chairpersons also failed to turn up. A total of 21 Lok Sabha members and eight Rajya Sabha members were asked to attend the meet, out of which only four -- chairman Jagdambika Pal, Hasnain Masoodi, CR Patil and Sanjay Singh -- turned up.

Unconfirmed reports stated that cricketer and BJP leader Gautam Gambhir, whose name was among the Lok Sabha members summoned for the meeting, skipped the meeting as he is currently on a leisure trip to Indore. News18 could not independently very the claim.

The committee has taken a stern view of the officers’ absence with its chairman Jagdambika Pal saying he will write to the Speaker about the misconduct. “There was no communication to the committee about the unavailability of the officials,” he said.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar said he will launch a probe to look into the absence of the officials. “We will look into why people didn’t turn up. We are very concerned about the environment. We were the first ones to start a joint action plan - short term, medium term and long term since 2015. There are challenges and we need to fight together. I’ve always said that joint cooperation is needed.”

The BJP leader said he wasn’t aware of Friday’s meeting and urged leaders to not indulge in blame-game and said, “All five states – Haryana, Punjab Uttar Pradesh Delhi and Rajasthan, need to come together. I was the one to bring in this concept. This is not a time to criticise each other. This issue should not be politicised.”

“It is very important for officers to turn up for such meetings. Officers are bound to attend the Parliamentary Committee Meeting. The AAP’s Sanjay singh was present at the meet,” said AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj.

The questions that the members were planning to raise included: As there are about 50 lakh cars on the roads in Delhi, is the government coming up with any sort of car pool policy or regulation?

Another question was that as per the Union Government, Rs 1,150 crores were given by the Centre to the states in the last one year to combat air pollution along with 14,000 machines. Does the government have a quantitative and qualitative utilisation report of the money disbursed?

The third question to be raised pertained to the Supreme Court's recent observation that everybody ranging from the secretary to the gram pradhan will be held responsible for losses due to air pollution. Does the government, in this regard, intend to define and fix responsibility through an internal mechanism?

The national capital is battling alarming levels of air pollution for the past few weeks. The air quality further deteriorated in the last four days, forcing authorities to shut schools for two days.

Check out today's city-wise real time air quality index here.

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