As Delhi chokes, AAP minister responds to BJP's allegations on smog tower
The BJP alleged that the smog tower was projected as a solution to pollution but has turned out to ‘tower of corruption’.
Delhi's Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Saturday said that the smog tower in the city's Connaught Place has been inoperational due to non-payment by the Centre, reported ANI.
Rai said as the Delhi Air Quality Index (AQI) worsened, several BJP leaders went to the Connaught Place-located smog tower and made videos accusing the Aam Aadmi Party of being behind it.
"I thought it was important for the people in Delhi to know under what conspiracy the smog tower in Delhi was shut and who did it…" Rai said at a press conference.
He said that there are two smog towers in Delhi. One is located in Anand Vihar, which is run by the central government, while the other is in Connaught Place, which is operated by the Delhi government.
The environment minister added that the smog tower in Connaught Place has been shut down arbitrarily on the orders of Delhi Pollution Control Committee Chairman (DPCC) Ashwani Kumar.
He alleged that Kumar, who assumed the role of DPCC chairman in December last year “stopped the release of funds” to IIT-Bombay and other agencies working on the project.
“...Violating all traditions, Central government appointed Ashwani Kumar as the Chairman of DPCC (Delhi Pollution Control Committee)…” he said, according to ANI. "Using his superpower, Ashwani Kumar violated Supreme Court order and stopped the payment for the study of smog tower...Following this, the agencies stopped the study and the smog tower was shut."
On Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party had criticised the Arvind-Kejriwal-led Delhi government, saying they it has failed to curb the pollution in the national capital.
"The smog tower was projected as a solution to pollution but it has turned out to be a "tower of corruption" of Kejriwal," BJP spokesperson Gautam Bhatia had said, according to PTI.
BJP leader Shehzad Poonawalla had also reached the Smog Tower in Delhi's Connaught place wearing a gas mask. He had claimed that the tower had not been operational for eight months.
"Kejriwal lives in a Sheesh Mahal but Delhi is living in a gas and smog ka Mahal. I ask some questions on Delhi Smog Tower built at cost of ₹23 cr which is shut for 8 months! What use is it? What have you done to tackle pollution in last 8-9 years? Just blame Centre and Diwali? Is this Smog Tower one more corruption done by AAP Government?" he had said.
The Air Quality Index of Delhi and neighbouring regions continued to remain severe for the third consecutive day on Saturday. At 7 am, Delhi recorded an AQI of 413.