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With no signs of smog letting up in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for a Cabinet meeting at 12.30 pm on Sunday to discuss the issue of deteriorating air quality in the city. Data from System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) on Sunday indicated that the pollution levels were still “severe”, with PM 2.5 at 355 and PM 10 at 482. At 9 am, the PM 10 levels at RK Puram was 999, at IGI Airport it was 436, at Punjabi Bagh, 999, Shanti Path area registered 662. The forecast for the next three days was also marked as “very poor”.
Meanwhile, Delhi residents held a protest at Jantar Mantar today against the government’s “ineffectiveness” in addressing the issue. “Never has it happened that schools were shut due to pollution, frankly we cant raise children like this,” a protester told news agency ANI. “We’ll hold protest every Sunday.This is an emergency, a crisis; politicians need to listen to us,” another protester quipped.
Saturday saw pollution levels peak to the highest levels this season so far, with the Centre saying that the situation was alarming. Union Minister Anil Madhav Dave called for an emergency meeting of all environment ministers from the states bordering Delhi to chalk out a plan of action in controlling the rising pollution levels. Dave appealed for a united response, and said that no one should indulge in a political blame-game on fighting pollution.
“There is an emergency situation in Delhi. The situation is bad, particularly for children, patients, women and elderly. We need to take immediate steps to deal with the situation,” Dave told reporters after meeting Kejriwal at his residence.
Saying that Delhi has become a “gas chamber”, Kejriwal blamed Haryana farmers for contributing to the city’s pollution woes. Farmers from the neighbouring state burn crop stubble before preparing the field for harvesting.
“Pollution levels in Delhi are so high that Delhi has become a gas chamber. Smoke from other states because of stubble burning and meteorological factors are responsible. The environment minister should call an emergency meeting of the chief ministers of Delhi and its neighbouring states on Monday so that immediate steps to tackle the issue can be taken… This situation needs the intervention of the Centre at the highest level. Farmers should be given incentives to find alternates to burning stubble,” said Kejriwal after meeting Dave.
Previously, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced that the government would tackle air pollution on war footing. Naming dust as one of the major source of air pollution, Sisodia revealed that the government will begin vacuum cleaning of roads and sprinkle water to stop dust from rising.