Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday convened a joint meeting in Chandigarh to discuss residue burning and vehicular pollution issues.
In a joint statement issued after the meeting, both the chief ministers recognised their deep and shared concern over the recent episode of heavy smog in National Capital Region (NCR). They agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at preventing its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018.
“We are happy to have had a very fruitful meeting at Chandigarh. We recognize our deep and shared concern over the recent episode of heavy smog in our NCR. We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at preventing its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018,” said the statement.
“During discussions, we agreed that the serious health risk to which such episodes of smog expose one and all require concrete and quick action on a number of fronts.
“We covered crop residue burning and vehicular pollution issues. We resolve to put in sustained efforts in pursuance of the jointly identified action points in the coming days, weeks and months,” the statement added. “We look forward to covering other sources of air and water pollution in our future discussions,” it said.
Speaking to the media after his meeting with Khattar, Kejriwal said: “We cannot control the direction of the wind. We all will have to make efforts to control air pollution.”
The Delhi chief minister, who had earlier blamed farmers of Punjab and Haryana for causing smoke and air pollution in Delhi, avoided blaming anyone. Meanwhile, Khattar said, “We have discussed a number of steps that can be taken to ease air pollution.”
Haryana Environment Minister Vipul Goel and Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain also attended the meeting. From Haryana, Chief Secretary DS Dhesi, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Rajesh Khullar, Additional Chief Secretary (environment) Dheera Khandelwal, Additional Chief Secretary (transport) RR Jowel, Additional Chief Secretary (home) SS Prasad, Director General of Police BS Sandhu and Director, Information, Public Relations and Languages Department Sameer Pal Srow while from the Delhi Government, its Environment Secretary Keshav Chandra and Advisor to the Delhi Chief Minister VK Jain were present in the meeting.
Kejriwal had earlier written to the chief ministers of both Haryana and Punjab and sought a joint meeting to find a solution to the problem that has led to widespread health concerns in the NCR. However, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh rejected Kejriwal’s request and instead asked him to refrain from trying to politicise a serious issue.
“Farmers cannot be expected to give up crop residue burning completely till the time they are provided viable solutions,” Singh had said.
Asserting that a long-term solution was needed to arrest the problem of crop residue burning, the Punjab chief minister said the state government was looking for affordable solutions for this problem.
(With agency inputs)