The Delhi government and the Opposition today clashed in the Assembly over air pollution in the national capital with BJP leader Vijender Gupta questioning the competence of the city’s pollution control authority. The ruckus started following Environment Minister Imran Hussain’s written submission to a question that pollution levels were “not rising” in Delhi and that the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) was adequately staffed.
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Incidentally, the air quality index of the city on Wednesday turned ‘very poor’, as against Tuesday’s poor.
Not satisfied with the reply, Gupta alleged that the government has failed to utilise the Budget allocation of Rs 79 crore on this front despite the lapse of nearly 10 months of the current financial year.
“We all the know the condition of DPCC. It lacks the potential and infrastructure to tackle air pollution in Delhi. It has completely failed,” Gupta said, seeking to know the number of polluting industries that have been challaned over the last one year.
Countering Gupta, the minister accused him of “politicising” the matter and listed the steps taken by the government, including ban on DG sets and the closure of Badarpur plant till January 31, to tackle pollution.
“The amount of work AAP government has done on this front is unprecedented. The Opposition leader should also elaborate what the BJP had done when it was in power,” Hussain said.
SAFAR air monitoring agency recorded the running average of PM 2.5 and PM 10 at 121 and 175 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3), in ‘ very poor’ and ‘moderate’ categories respectively.
The clash comes against the backdrop of Centre empowering the Supreme Court-mandated EPCA to roll out the graded response action against air pollution in Delhi and NCR towns, which include a possible re-run of odd-even vehicular restrictions.
As per the plan, parking fee hike of up to 4 per cent and increasing frequency of metro are among the measures that are to be enforced under the prevailing pollution conditions.
Meanwhile, Gupta also targeted the government over its “failure” to draft a unified policy on transport towards resolving the congestion and pollution menace.
In his response, Transport Minister Satyendar Jain said things would be put in place if Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Traffic Police are “handed over” to him.
He also accused DDA of “deliberately” leaving out the Transport Department from its Transit-Oriented Development policy, which he said was coming in the way of an integrated public transport system.