Delhi chokes as political mud-slinging goes on

Delhi chokes as political mud-slinging goes on

. Pollution levels in Delhi and neighbouring cities dropped marginally on Saturday (PTI Photo)

A political slugfest over pollution in Delhi continued on Saturday with Union minister Prakash Javadekar accusing Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of “politicising” the issue even as people in Delhi and its surroundings remained affected by the deteriorated air quality and toxic haze.

Javadekar lashed out at Kejriwal over the latter’s call to students to write letters to the chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab to stop stubble burning by farmers.

He said that the Delhi chief minister was “instigating” students to do so just to show his counterparts in the two states “in bad light and project them as villains.”

Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia hit back and accused Javadekar, who holds the charge of environment and forest ministry, of postponing meetings with the state environment ministers thrice since September 12, saying either the Union minister had no time or does not consider treating the national capital’s poor air quality a priority.

Sisodia also claimed that with the Centre making 63,000 machines to stop stubble burning available in two years, it might take 50-60 years to implement the programme.

What should the people of Delhi-NCR do “during this period?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar wrote to Javadekar requesting him to convene a meeting of chief ministers of Delhi and neighbouring states to prepare a joint strategy to address the problem of severe pollution in the National Capital Region.

Urgent intervention

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also stressed on the need for the Centre’s urgent intervention, noting that the Centre had failed to respond to his proposal for a separate bonus amount at the rate of Rs 100 per quintal to facilitate stubble management by the farmers.

“Is it not your government’s task, Mr. Prime Minister, to search for that permanent solution, in consultation with all the other stakeholders, including Punjab, Delhi and Haryana?” he asked.