Delhi Elections 2020: The politics of pollution

Delhi Elections 2020: The politics of pollution

Ahead of the February 8 elections, the menace has blown up enough to find a spot in the party manifestos, promising to miraculously offer cleaner, healthier air without offering a sketch of a definite ‘how’.

Representative image. (AFP Photo)

Enough has been said about one of the biggest issues that enveloped the national capital over the last one year. From eyes pinned to the air quality index that refused to get off its bright red high chair, barely getting off the severe zone in the tail end of 2019 to masks becoming an indispensable accessory that adorned every face, the perennial air pollution sucked the air out of Delhi.

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As the story generally goes, the merry-go-round of blame game and debates followed – was it mere vehicular emission or was it the stubble burning from the neighbouring states? Was it an ungodly cocktail of the two? Was Delhi to be blamed alone or were the neighbouring states equal culprits? Did odd-even 2.0 bring some respite? These and scores of other questions and counter questions were raised while an effective solution continued to be elusive.

Ahead of the February 8 elections, the menace has blown up enough to find a spot in the party manifestos, promising to miraculously offer cleaner, healthier air without offering a sketch of a definite ‘how’.

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Let’s take a look at what the parties have to offer:
  
Aam Aadmi Party 

The incumbent Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party came out with a 10-point guarantee card days before the party released its manifesto. The guarantee card guarantees a whole host of things, one of them being bringing down air pollution in the city by one-third. The same 10 points were included in the 28-programme manifesto, making air pollution a point of focus.

Back in September 2019, Kejriwal had also announced a  seven-point Parali Pradushan Action Plan that comprised Odd-Even Rule, Pollution Masks, Community Diwali Laser Show, Environment Marshals, Hotspot Control, Dust Control and the Tree Challenge.

Launching the guarantee card in January, CM Kejriwal declared that his promises were for the long term. Cleaning and rejuvenation of the Yamuna River was one other promise made on the water pollution front.

Congress

The tall promises don’t end at the AAP. To prevent Delhi from choking if and when it came to power, the Congress in its manifesto proposed to spend 25 per cent of its Delhi Budget on fighting pollution.
  
Bharatiya Janata Party

While launching the BJP’s ‘Sankalp Patra’ for Delhi Assembly elections, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari announced that tackling water and air pollution would be one of the top priorities on the BJP’s agenda if voted to power.  

He also said that the BJP government at the Centre had allocated Rs 55,000 crore towards better air quality in and around Delhi. Gadkari also said that a portion of this amount was spent on two road projects -- Western Peripheral Expressway and the Eastern Peripheral Expressway – which had helped reduce traffic congestion towards Delhi and the pollution level in the city had, in turn, seen a dip.

Gadkari had also pointed out the Central BJP government’s effort to clean the polluted Yamuna River and the Rs 6,000 crore that they had spent on 13 projects towards the same.      

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