‘Gas chamber’: Arvind Kejriwal blames crop burning in neighbouring states for pollution in Delhi
Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said that Delhi has turned into a “gas chamber”, blaming stubble burning in neighbouring states for pollution in the national capital.
“ Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states. It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks today.I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed,” the Delhi chief minister said in a tweet.
Kejriwal’s comment came even as the national capital recorded the highest level of pollution this season on Friday morning with the Air Quality Index (AQI) value hovering at 459 at 8 am. Pollution levels had breached the ‘severe+’ zone late on Thursday night.
This is the first time that the air quality has dipped to emergency levels in the national capital this season. Such a situation was last seen in January 2019.
There has been a rapid rise in the number of farm fires reported in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana in recent days– a key source of the pollutant that is considered to be the deadliest of all particles in the air.
Kejriwal has held the Punjab and Haryana governments responsible for the deteriorating air quality in Delhi, saying farmers of the two states have been left with no option but to burn their stubble.
At an event to distribute masks to school children for countering air pollution on Friday, Kejriwal urged the students to write letters to ‘Khattar Uncle’ and ‘Captain Uncle’ in a reference to ML Khattar and Capt Amarinder Singh, the chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab respectively.
“We have worked hard to reduce the pollution levels in Delhi in the last five years. We have managed to reduce the pollution level by 25% in Delhi while other states are facing the opposite. Now we have to write letters to Khattar Uncle and Captain Uncle requesting them to take care of our health and give machines to their farmers for stubble burning,” he said.
The Delhi government has announced to distribute 50 lakh anti pollution masks to students both government and private schools.
Though the Kejriwal government has banned any outdoor activity in the schools due to severe pollution levels, the mask distribution ceremony was held outdoors at the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidayalaya in Civil Lines. Many students complained of coughing and eyes burning during the one-and-a-half hour event which was also attended by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
“Many of our students complained about cough and eye burning. We have been instructed to avoid all outdoor activities in the school, so this event could have been organised in some auditorium,” said a teacher at the school, who did not wish to be named.
No immediate response was available from the government on why the event was organised outdoors.