Stubble burning: Kejriwal asks Javadekar to intervene

Kejriwal noted that the high level of pollution was not only a health hazard for the citizens, but it also shows India in a poor light in the eyes of visiting dignitaries. (PTI File Photo)

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 also lashed out at Kejriwal over the latter's call to the students for writing letters to  the Haryana and Punjab chief ministers for stopping stubble burning by farmers, saying 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.

“It is unfortunate that Delhi CM @ArvindKejriwal is politicising the issue of #AirPollution & instigating students to write a letter to Haryana & Punjab CMs to show them in bad light and present them as villains,” Javadekar said in a series of tweets.

The Union minister maintained that the problem of air pollution has aggravated in the last 15 years.

“Which is now being effectively remedied by @narendramodi Govt. We have started inter-state meetings of NCR ministers and officials. All stakeholders need to act together and not blame each other. I appeal to all agencies to work together in combating #AirPollution & give relief to the people and not indulge in cheap politics,” he added.

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 (NCR).

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.

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