Sisodia says Centre, EPCA doing very little to control pollution in north India
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said air pollution across northern India was rising because of stubble burning and accused the Central government of ‘completely failing’ to implement anti-pollution measures in all states concerned, despite getting ample time to do so.
Sisodia also criticised the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (Epca), saying it could not get enough out of the neighbouring states to tackle air pollution, which peaks during winter and plunges Delhi into a public health emergency year after year.
Both the ministry of environment, forest and climate change and the Epca denied Sisodia’s claims.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Sisodia demanded immediate and concrete steps be taken to check pollution in north India.
Sisodia’s comments came on a day when Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) settled at 300 on Tuesday, just a point short of slipping into the ‘very poor’ zone -- the worst this season so far.
“Smoke from crop burning in the neighbouring states has started showing its effect this time also. The Delhi government has consistently been taking many concrete steps both this year and over the past few years to tackle pollution. But the Central government’s concern about pollution is witnessed only for these three months every year,” Sisodia said.
He questioned the role of Epca and asked why it has been “unsuccessful” in controlling from other states.
“Like those state governments, Epca also seems to failed in controlling pollution. The Central government will have to take the responsibility for preventing pollution throughout northern India. Due to inactivity of the Centre in cases of stubble pollution, smoke from Punjab or Haryana reach Delhi every year,” he said.
Countering Sisodia’s allegations, an official spokesperson of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change said, “The central government believes in working to end pollution and has taken various anti-air pollution initiatives in the last six years. To control stubble burning, machines for stubble cutting worth Rs 1,400 crore have been provided to Punjab and Haryana farmers, which has resulted in a reduction of about 15% and 20% pollution from stubble burning in these states, respectively.”
Bhure Lal, Epca chairperson, responded by saying that the monitoring body has been in touch with the state governments of Punjab and Haryana for nearly a month, ever since the first signs of farm fires were spotted through satellite imagery.
“We have been in touch with the governments of Punjab and Haryana and have been taking regular updates of the work that they are doing to keep a check on the stubble burning instances,” Lal said.
The deputy chief minister reiterated that the issue was ‘affecting crores of citizens living in North India’. “The Central government cannot keep sitting idle throughout the year and engage in tokenism when pollution levels increase,” Sisodia said.
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