Unfair to blame only Punjab for air pollution: CM Singh

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh

Amid a hue and cry over the burgeoning crisis of hazardous air quality in New Delhi and the national capital region, Punjab on Sunday said to apportion the blame entirely on stubble burning in Punjab was inappropriate and that the Delhi government was equally to be blamed for the crisis. 

In fact, Punjab claimed a decline in the number of cases of stubble burning in the state compared to last year. Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh said statistics showed that the parameters on the factors relating to pollution were higher in Delhi. 

He added that instead of addressing the problem, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was playing political games. “What the AAP leader was doing on the ground to resolve the issue,” the Captain asked.

The Captain, while admitting that Punjab was also contributing to the Delhi smog due to the westerly upper winds, including those coming from Pakistan, said that putting the blame entirely on his state was incorrect.

Action has been initiated against as many as 2,923 farmers so far in 20,729 cases of stubble burning reported till November 1 in Punjab. The state expects about 10 - 20% decline in the number of such cases this year, against 2018. “As against a total of around 49,000 cases of stubble burning last year, this year the state government has so far received reports of 20,729 cases, with more than 70% of the paddy already harvested,” Capt said on Sunday.

Despite the Punjab and Haryana High Court having stayed the recovery of fine from farmers penalized last year, the state government has intensified its drive against the dangerous practice of stubble burning, he said, while expressing hope that Prime Minister Modi will understand and respond positively to his letter on the grave issue of worsening air pollution in Delhi.

The measures taken by Punjab are not enough to check the problem, as a majority of farmers in Punjab had less than 5 acres of land, making it economically unviable for them to go for hi-end ways of managing the stubble. “Compensation by the union government was the only solution in the circumstances,” said the CM, while adding that the matter was not one of politics, but "a question of the future of our people, which goes beyond politics."

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