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Tempers fly as Sunita Narain, Kejriwal spar during EPCA-govt meeting on pollution

Defending the panel’s actions, Narain allegedly replied to Kejriwal saying EPCA was “not doing any politics” and that its measures under the Graded Response Action Plan were notified by the Centre.

delhi Updated: Nov 17, 2017 23:32 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times
delhi news,delhi,pollution
The meeting ar L-G house.

A meeting to review the measures taken to curb air pollution in the city, chaired by Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal turned into a full blown war between the Arvind Kejriwal government and the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, on Friday.

Officials who attended the high-level meeting said chief minister Kejriwal and EPCA member Sunita Narain had a verbal spat, with the former alleging that the Supreme court appointed panel should have been proactive towards curbing stubble burning by meeting governments of the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Defending the panel’s actions, Narain allegedly replied to Kejriwal saying EPCA was “not doing any politics” and that its measures under the Graded Response Action Plan were notified by the Centre.

Hearing this, a furious Kejriwal was allegedly heard saying, “Leave the politics to us. Instead of containing pollution, your steps (like banning entry of trucks and increasing parking fee) are instead putting people in trouble. The Haryana CM told me around Rs 1,600 crore is required for giving subsidy to farmers. Why didn’t the EPCA take the matter up with the Centre?”

Narain and EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal replied to Kejriwal saying that the emergency measures weren’t effective because of the government’s poor public transport system. To this, transport minister Kailash Gahlot stated that in the last three years, the government had brought over 700 buses under the cluster or orange buses.

The meeting that went on for an hour and a half got so stormy that the L-G had to conclude it abruptly without any concluding remarks, which is the usual protocol. However, he later said on Twitter that agencies have been asked to strictly enforce ban on open burning of waste and use of diesel generator sets.

“Emergency measures lifted. But measures like prohibition on open burning of garbage, mechanical sweeping of roads, increased frequency of Metro and ban on use of generator sets will continue,” he said.

Apart from deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who also raised the stubble burning issue, environment minister Imran Hussain pointed out that the EPCA’s ban was resulting in people using diesel generators illegally and touts charging more than twice the fee for temporary electricity connections.

The meeting had two government ministers apart from the CM and a number of top officials, including the chief secretary. Commissioners of the municipal corporations were also present.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 23:30 IST