Politicians play blame game as Delhi fights to breathe

 A view of Rajpath shrouded in smog in New Delhi (PTI Photo)

Even as the residents of Delhi and nearby townships struggle to breathe, politicians blame each other for creating the toxic haze that shows no signs of getting abated in the last 48 hours.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal blasted his counterparts in Delhi and Haryana for their failure to curb the practice of torching the farm fields leading to the release of loads of pollutants in the air whereas Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh accused Kejriwal for lying to the people.

Not to be left behind, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar too charged Kejriwal for indulging in the blame game rather than coordinate with other states to resolve the crisis.

“Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states. Delhi people making huge sacrifices. Its time Captain (Amrinder Singh) and (Manhor Lal) Khattar governments give specific time lines and milestones by when will they stop crop burning. Why should Delhi suffer?” Kejriwal said.

Displaying pictures of a single spot in Delhi on September 26 (showing blue sky) and November 1 (gray sky), he said stubble burning is the only thing that changed in the last one month. Delhi government purchased 50 lakh N95 masks that are being distributed to school children.

As on Friday, Punjab has reported 22,137 cases of stubble burning, which marks a 25% rise compared to the last year. Tarn Taran district alone recorded 2,614 incidents followed by Ferozepur, Patiala and Sangrur districts, each reporting in excess of 2000 such cases till October 31.

Haryana, on the other hand, witnessed 4,288 cases of stubble burning, a tad lower than what it had seen last year when 4,589 such cases were registered till October 31.

Earlier this week the Punjab Chief Minister, however, dubbed Kejriwal as a liar and accused him of resorting to political gimmickry as he failed to tackle the pollution problem in Delhi in the past five years.

“Now that Delhi was reeling under dangerously hazardous levels of pollution, the AAP chief had suddenly decided to turn his attention to the critical issue," Singh had stated earlier this week, notwithstanding the contrasting data from the state pollution control board.

Javadekar too castigated Kejriwal for the blame game rather than seeking a solution through a coordinated approach. “I will only say that Rs 3,500 crore were to be released by the Delhi government for the Eastern Peripheral Expressway work. Which was to reduce pollution load for the city but they acted only at the instruction of the court which directed them to immediately provide Rs 1,000 crore,” he said.

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