Smog politics: blame game on between Delhi, Punjab

Smog politics: blame game on between Delhi, Punjab

As a thick blanket of toxic pollutants enveloped the national capital for the third consecutive day, chief ministers of Delhi and Punjab kept the farm fires on – an agricultural practice believed to be the main culprit behind the smog.

While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he wanted to meet his Punjab counterpart Capt Amarinder Singh to know how much money would be needed to change the practice, Singh said his meeting with Kejriwal would not resolve any issue.

"Kejriwal is a peculiar person who has views on everything without understanding the situation. There is 20 million tonne of paddy straw. Where do I ask farmers to store? He doesn't understand this problem," Singh said.

The Punjab chief minister said he requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convene a meeting of the chief ministers of affected states along with union ministers in order to find out a solution.

"Just my meeting with Delhi chief minister resolves nothing," said Singh, who earlier said Punjab farmers were too poor to use alternate methods to replace stubble burning.

"The high increase in PM levels in Delhi is not just due to local reasons. People and government of Delhi are ready to take all steps but these steps will not be enough until a solution to crop burning is found. Until state governments don't find economically viable solutions to crop burning it will not stop," said Kejriwal.

Amid the blame game, the air quality of Delhi and its satellite towns deteriorated further on Thursday with all of them recording air quality index higher than 480 on a scale of 500.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) scale shows Delhi having an AQI of 486 whereas the index for Ghaziabad (499), Gurgaon (494), Noida (487) and Faridabad (482) are equally bad.

No major change in the weather pattern is expected in the next few days, but the Met office is expecting a passing shower in north-west India around Nov 13-14 that may help settle down the dust to some extent.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment and Forest has created a seven-member committee headed by the environment secretary to monitor the implementation of the short-term and long-term solutions.

Other members of the committee are the secretary, department of science and technology; secretary, department of biotechnology; additional secretary, Niti Aayog; chief secretary, Delhi; chairman, CPCB and a representative of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.

DH News Service

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