Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia hit out at the Centre on Tuesday, saying it had failed to address issues of air pollution in North India, and had, instead, engaged in tokenism. Air quality in the city has dipped over the past few days, inching towards the very poor category. On Tuesday, the AQI stood at 300, a point away from very poor. Sisodia said while Delhi government had taken steps to combat pollution, the Centre had woken up only before the harvest and stubble burning season.
“Smoke from stubble burning has started reaching Delhi. Over the past several years, Delhi government has been taking different steps to reduce Delhi’s own pollution. The city’s green cover has risen, new trees are being planted, the new tree transplantation policy has been passed, number of buses has increased, smog towers are being installed and the new Electric Vehicle Policy has been passed… Centre has done nothing to reduce pollution, especially pollution because of stubble burning,” Sisodia said.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the contribution of stubble burning in Delhi’s air pollution was 3% on Monday and marginal on Tuesday due to the wind direction not being very favourable for transport of pollutants.
Sisodia said the Supreme Court mandated body, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority, had failed to do its job of ensuring other states and the Centre play their part in controlling pollution. “I request EPCA to see why other governments sit idle through the year. Has EPCA also failed to get governments to control pollution? It seems so,” he said.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, meanwhile, said, “The Central government has taken various anti-air pollution initiatives in the last six years.” It listed measures such as construction of Eastern and Western peripheral expressways to bypass Delhi, closing down the Badarpur power plant, introducing BS-VI standard compliant vehicles and fuel.
A ministry spokesperson said machines for stubble cutting worth Rs 1,400 crore have been provided to farmers in Punjab and Haryana, resulting in reduction of 15% and 20% in pollution from stubble burning in the two states.
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