New Delhi: Expressing disappointment over environment ministers of the neighbouring states giving a miss to a meeting convened by the Centre over air pollution, their Delhi counterpart Kailash Gahlot alleged on Monday that "the seriousness required to deal with the issue was missing".
He said stubble burning is going on unabated in neighbouring states despite the Supreme Court holding every official, from the chief secretary to gram panchayat, accountable for it.
The share of smoke from stubble burning in Delhi's pollution was 18-20 per cent on Monday, Gahlot said at a press conference, and informed reporters that he has written to Haryana and Punjab expressing his disappointment over their environment ministers' absence from the meeting convened by the Centre on Saturday on the issue of air pollution.
Despite the Supreme Court's "strict directions on this very serious issue, environment ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan did not attend the meeting. The seriousness required to deal with the issue was missing", the Delhi minister said.
He said unpaved roads and vacant plots are the major source of dust pollution in Delhi.
The responsibility of controlling dust emission from roads and vacant plots lies with the municipal corporations and the Delhi Development Authority, respectively, Gahlot said.
"Still, the MCD commissioners and the DDA VC chose to give the meeting a miss... this shows that there's a lack of commitment and political will to address the issue," he said.
The minister expressed concern over the pace of distribution of farm equipment to farmers for in-situ management of paddy straw.
According to an affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court, Haryana and Punjab distributed 63,000 machines to farmers during 2018-19. In 2019-20, as many as 46,000 machines have been distributed, Gahlot said.
"There are around 27 lakh farmers in Punjab alone. If the same speed continues, it will take another 60 years for the machines to reach every farmer... It seems stubble burning will continue at the same pace next year too," he said.