The worsening air pollution situation in Delhi has prompted Union Environment Minister Anil Dave to call a meeting of all environment ministers of NCR states on Monday. “The Environment Minister of NRC states, including Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, will convene an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the worsening air pollution situation in Delhi,” said Dave. This development comes after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the respective state governments and the central government for not doing enough to tackle the deteriorating environment situation in Delhi.
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The NGT in its order on Saturday had asked the AAP government in Delhi and the central government to stop ”shifting blame” for the worsening smog in the NCR region and ”look at what we will giving our children.” The tribunal further said “We understand there is a conflict of administration between the civic agencies, Delhi government and the Centre. But you can tell us who is not doing his work. It’s unfair to the people of Delhi. In everything, the authorities are just throwing off their hands. We have to do something. You cannot say that time will do it.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had immediately come out in defence of his government and said “Prima facie the biggest reason seems to be burning of stubble in agricultural fields in Haryana and Punjab in huge quantity.”
He also said the Diwali celebrations in the NCR region had also contributed to the ongoing problem. “Fireworks during Diwali marginally added to the pollution. But other things inside Delhi did not drastically change. So the smog is mainly due to smoke from farm fires,” he observed.
However, the NGT has noted that there are three other contribution factors to the pollution problem namely dust, burning of plastic and waste, and uncovered construction material lying in the open and also directed authorities to look into them. “There are three other sources of air pollution. Why do you not take steps? You know hillocks of waste are being burnt every day at landfill sites. This itself is enough to kill people of Delhi. Why don’t you fix the responsibility of the officers and take action against them,” the bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.
As for the farm fires, the NGT issued notices to the Secretaries of Environment and Urban Development of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and directed them to remain present before it on the next date of hearing on November 8.