As pollution levels in the National Capital Region remained severe for the third straight day, politics over who was to be blamed for the smog crisis took centre stage, with the States blaming each other or the Centre.
Particulate Matter levels in Delhi were over eight times the standards, as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) index of the Union Earth Sciences Ministry. In fact, the Air Quality Index, as per the Central Pollution Control Board, rose from Wednesday, remaining in the ‘severe’ category.
Speaking at the inauguration of 20 new air quality monitoring stations, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal once again said crop burning in Punjab and Haryana was the main reason behind Delhi becoming a “gas chamber” for about a month every year. Referring to his letters to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday, Mr. Kejriwal said the NCR States needed to work together to find a solution.
He said the Punjab and Haryana governments must provide “financially-viable alternatives” to farmers, who were forced to burn the stubble, reiterating that the Delhi government would help. He repeated his demand for a meeting with the Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers.
The Punjab Chief Minister, however, reiterated his stand that the Centre had to provide compensation to farmers to stop stubble burning, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij put the ball in the Delhi government’s court, saying it should compensate Haryana’s farmers as Delhiites also consumed the food grains produced in his State.
Meanwhile, taking cognisance of the situation, the National Human Rights Commission on Thursday issued notices to the Union, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana governments, asking for reports on the steps taken to address the problem within two weeks.
The National Green Tribunal stepped in, banning all construction in the National Capital Region till November 14. On Wednesday, the Delhi government banned all construction and allowed only trucks carrying essential commodities. The NGT on Thursday banned trucks carrying construction material within Delhi. (Courtesy The Hindu)