Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal admitted on Friday that air pollution in the city had spiked but appeared reluctant to clamp a ban on firecrackers seen as responsible for smog and haze blanketing the city.
Speaking to India Today, Kejriwal blamed stubble burning as the biggest reason for increasing pollution across the city and batted for technological solutions to dissuade farmers from carrying out the environmentally damaging exercise.
“Delhi pollution cannot be seen in isolation. The government has to give subsidy for alternative technology to stubble burning,” Kejriwal told India Today.
But the chief minister appeared reluctant to blame firecrackers for the smog engulfing Delhi that has been described as the worst in 17 years and triggered a health crisis across the city.
“Diwali can affect one or two nights. If people want to voluntarily shun crackers, they can do it. This year, fireworks were 40% less,” Kejriwal said.
As he spoke on Friday morning, HT’s air-quality index showed the maximum severe warning at 11 different spots in the city – a situation that holds out the risk of asthma, health disease, stroke and even cancer for Delhi’s 17 million residents.
Kejriwal identified three causes for the spiking pollution: Stubble burning, dust and vehicular exhaust. The government has already unveiled plans to install giant outdoor air purifiers at key intersections and regularly vacuum clean streets to improve the city’s air, among the worst in the world.