Delhi pollution: Khattar, Kejriwal pledge to prevent repeat of smog in 2018

Delhi chief minister, who had earlier blamed farmers of Punjab and Haryana for causing smoke and air pollution, avoided blaming anyone.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2017 09:57 IST
Pawan Sharma
Pawan Sharma
Chandigarh, Hindustan Times
Delhi air pollution,Arvind Kejriwal,Manohar Lal Khattar
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (left) with Haryana counterpart ML Khattar at his residence in Chandigarh on Wednesday. ((HT Photo))

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday pledged a joint battle against air pollution in the national capital region (NCR) next winter.

The chief ministers met in Chandigarh as Delhi continues to battle toxic smog for more than a week, a situation described by the two as serious, requiring concrete and quick action.

“We agreed to take all necessary steps to contain pollution,” Kejriwal told mediapersons in a brief interaction after the meeting that came on a day when Delhi’s air worsened after showing some improvement a day earlier.

The Kejriwal government has faced criticism for its handling of the annual crisis that poses serious health risk, especially to the children and the elderly.

“Our territories are different and no one can control the flow of wind. But the top political executives of all the affected states, including Centre, must find a solution to Delhi’s air pollution,” he said with Khattar sitting next to him.

Burning of paddy stubble in Punjab and Haryana ahead of new planting season is among the main causes of spike in pollution in Delhi at this time of the year.

“During the discussions, both the states agreed that the serious health risks to which such episodes of smog expose one and all require concrete and quick action on a number of fronts,” a joint statement released at the end of the 80-minute meeting said.

Khattar and Kejriwal have been in a war of words over the burning of crop waste. Khattar on Monday tweeted a copy of a letter to Kejriwal, asking the Delhi CM to “rise above short-term electoral gains”.

But on Wednesday, Khattar said air pollution in Delhi was a “common concern and not a problem of one state only”.

“Haryana and Delhi look forward to covering other sources of air and water pollution in future discussions,” the joint statement said. The two leaders agreed to take steps and make sustained effort to prevent a repeat in 2018.

The meeting had sent out a clear message that “we at the top level” were ready to take any required step, Kejriwal said.

Earlier this week, as air quality came close to emergency levels, Kejriwal wrote to his Punjab and Haryana counterparts for a meeting. But Punjab CM Capt Singh said no, asking Kejriwal not to politicise a serious issue.

Delhi can hope for some respite in coming days as stubble burning has come down in Haryana where sowing of wheat is expected to begin by the end of November or the first week of December. In Punjab, paddy is still being harvested.

First Published: Nov 15, 2017 16:44 IST