Kejriwal blames Punjab for Delhi’s pollution

Kejriwal blames Punjab for Delhi’s pollution

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses reporters from Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana and AAP party members, at the Chandigarh Press Club on Thursday. PTI

Rubbishing Punjab's claim of successfully ebbing stubble burning, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday squarely blamed Punjab for Delhi’s deteriorating air quality.

He also blamed the Centre for "failing" to keep its assurance on stubble burning. Showing satellite images, Kejriwal said extensive stubble burning can be easily seen in fields across Punjab, "which is the reason for Delhi struggling to breathe."

Kejriwal, who is in Chandigarh, on Thursday said this pattern of poor air quality is witnessed in the national capital and adjoining areas every year from October 25 to November 20, when paddy stubble is burnt in Punjab.

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Kejriwal said there is neither any sudden influx of vehicles around this time in Delhi, nor any new overnight set up of industry, which could lead to the poor air quality. "Stubble burning in Punjab is the cause," he reiterated.

“Throughout the year, people of Delhi and the state government have worked hard to keep pollution levels within range. Before October 25, Delhi’s air quality index remains between 150 to 200. This time around, it suddenly increases because of stubble burning,” he said.

Blaming the Centre, Kejriwal said he had met Union Minister Harsh Vardhan a few months ago, and the minister told him that both Punjab and Haryana would get grants to buy machines.

The AAP national convenor claimed Harsh Vardhan had assured him that there was no need to worry as each village in Punjab and Haryana will be given grant to purchase straw management machines. He said, "The minister needs to explain why it has not happened."

Kejriwal bailed out Haryana saying stubble burning is limited to only a small portion in the state.

Punjab, however, has maintained that it has managed to drastically reduce number of instances of stubble burning and that it cannot be blamed for Delhi’s polluted air quality.

Citing data from Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), the Punjab government said that 3,228 cases of stubble burning were reported across the state from September 27 to October 22, 2018 compared to 8,420 and 13,358 cases in corresponding period during the year 2017 and 2016. But the fact remains that after October 25, the number of cases of stubble burning have increased three-fold in Punjab.