As Delhi's Air Quality Worsens, Neighbouring State's Environment Ministers Remain Absent From Meeting
With each passing day, Delhi’s air quality seems to be deteriorating. The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is already at the brink of slipping into the ‘severe’ category. However, even at such trying times, when both the central and state governments are devising plans to curb the problem, environment ministers of four neighbouring states skipped an important meet to discuss Delhi’s worsening air pollution.
Four neighbouring state ministers remain absent
According to NDTV, Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan called for a crucial meeting of the five environment ministers of five northern Indian states. While only Delhi environment minister Imran Hussain showed up, the environment ministers of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh reportedly skipped the meet and sent bureaucrats instead. The meeting took place in the national capital on November 1.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to address the absence of the ministers and questioned the absence of the four ministers.
Why didn’t ministers from other states attend? Its a collective problem and I urge everyone to please work together. Only then can we find a soln. https://t.co/KSmR5deJDb
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 1, 2018
At the meeting, the Union Minister said that the steps taken by Punjab and Haryana to curb the menace of stubble burning were “far from satisfactory”. After the meeting, Dr Harsh Vardhan was quoted as telling the media, “Punjab and Haryana have been informed to take more action on stubble burning. Data revealed that compared to last year, there has been a 30 per cent reduction in stubble burning.”
Reportedly, he added that financial aid of Rs 591 crore out of about Rs 1000 crore has been provided and have directed officials to be more vigilant. Moreover, he informed that, as a measure to solve the problem, 35 air-filter equipped buses, ‘Bus Pariyantra’, was going to be launched on the same day which will roam around Delhi.
Stubble burning is the main culprit
Defending claims that stubble burning is the sole reason for Delhi’s air pollution and not the city’s traffic conditions or industries, CM Arvind Kejriwal reportedly blamed the Centre for not giving adequate machinery to the farmers in Punjab and Haryana. He used NASA satellite images released by Imran Hussain which shows red dots on the Punjab, Haryana region, indicating stubble burning.
Those politicians and media houses who are saying that there is no stubble burning this year may like to see these images. Please face facts. Only then will we be able to find solns. https://t.co/At95B4Q5wg
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 2, 2018
On Wednesday, while addressing the media, Hussain said, “The latest photographs from NASA prove it beyond doubt.”
Latest satellite images show crop residue burning at dangerous levels
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) October 17, 2018
Reportedly, an aggressive 10-day-long “Clean Air Campaign” was also launched by the Union Minister while the Delhi Pollution Control Committee directed the traffic department to keep a strict vigil. He also lauded the Supreme Court’s direction to only use green crackers during Diwali.
Green Crackers to reduce pollution
According to Central Pollution Control Board data, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida recorded an AQI of 416 on November 1, which falls under “severe category while the PM10 level in Delhi stood at 368. With Diwali in mind, a Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan clarified on October 31 that only green firecrackers will be used in Delhi, while all others can be sold in other parts of the country.
The country’s first green crackers, developed by the scientists of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research would reportedly be 30% less polluting than the average ones. However, it won’t be available in bulk in the markets by Diwali, which is just a few days away. The Supreme Court had also set a two-hour time cap for bursting crackers, which will be applicable pan India.