Punjab government on Monday washed its hands of the smog that engulfed the national capital over past 10 days, saying it was Delhi’s own pollution emitted from the 150 sq km National Capital Region.
It was also conveyed that these days wind is not blowing from Punjab towards Delhi and there was no reason for the smog from Punjab reaching Delhi.
“It (smog) is not from Punjab, it has been emitted from your (Delhi’s) vehicular traffic, coal-based power plants and burning of garbage. Please don’t blame Punjab for your pollution. Punjab has already suffered a lot due to false publicity as a drug state,” Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh told Union minister of state for environment Anil Madhav Dave in New Delhi on Monday. Tota Singh was representing chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who holds the charge of environment department, at a meeting of ministers from four states convened by the Union environment minister on smog in Delhi.
Punjab and Haryana were facing criticism as large-scale burning of paddy stubble by the farmers of these two states was blamed for Delhi’s woes. After the National Green Tribunal (NGT) snub to two states, Punjab on October 28 conveyed to the tribunal that it was not the smoke from Punjab that had engulfed Delhi.
In the meeting, representatives from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan were present. Delhi’s environment minister Imran Hussain, who made the opening remarks, blamed Punjab and Haryana to which both took offence and said it was not possible practically.
Giving figures, Tota Singh said Punjab recorded lowest pollution levels as compared to neighbouring states between October 15 and 31. He gave pollution figures of Punjab recorded from Amritsar, Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh; Panchkula, Rohtak and Gurgaon in Haryana and Delhi pollution levels recorded from Shahdipur, Dwarka and Dilshad Garden for 16 days.
The state agriculture minister said that Delhi’s pollution (suspended particulate matter and nitrous oxide) were much more than that of Punjab. He informed in the Union minister that stubble burning in Punjab has subsided to negligible as already 75% agriculture area was sown with wheat. He also demanded `1,600 crore from the Centre to check stubble burning.
Tota Singh told the Union minister that in the given circumstances, Punjab farmers had no option but to burn the paddy stubble. “To remove stubble from the field, we require `1,000 per acre, and `800 crore every year. For a long term solution, we need `1,600 crore,” he said.