Delhi’s air quality top of mind as MPs make a point
On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha will discuss the issue of air pollution in Delhi under Rule 193, which means there will be no voting at the end of the debate.Updated: Nov 19, 2019 00:36 IST
Discussions on air pollution in the national capital are expected to take the centre stage in Parliament over the next two days. The Lok Sabha and one of its panels will take up the issue that has hogged the national limelight since Diwali in October-end, when the air quality in Delhi and the northern India turned poor.
On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha will discuss the issue of air pollution in Delhi under Rule 193, which means there will be no voting at the end of the debate. Parliament’s standing committee on urban development has already rescheduled its meeting on the topic to Wednesday; it couldn’t take place last week due to lack of quorum.
“We are holding the meeting on air pollution on November 20. This time, I am sure all the panel members and officers would be present,” panel chairman Jagdambika Pal said.
Last week, the deferment of the panel’s meeting snowballed into a political tussle, with members of Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accusing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members of not taking the issue seriously. No representatives from North, East and South Delhi Municipal Commissions came to attend the meeting.
At a meeting headed by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday to discuss the agenda of the House, Congress leaders wanted a debate on the Kashmir situation. Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and some other parties wanted the House to take up the Kashmir issue first, but Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay and others urged Birla to give preference to the problems arising out of pollution and climate change. The leaders finally agreed to discuss pollution and climate change ahead of any other subject.
While the air in Delhi was relatively better on Monday, some MPs decided to do their bit to tackle pollution. Union minister for state Mansukhbhai Mandaviya came on a bike. “When I learned to ride a bicycle, it was quite fun and fashion, but now it has become my passion. It is eco-friendly, it saves fuel and keeps you physically healthy,” he said.
Another BJP MP Manoj Tiwari could be seen riding a bike. Tiwari, however, also tried to make it a political show as he appealed to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal: “Save the environment and give clean water to Delhi.” It was an apparent reference to the recent report of the Bureau of Indian Standardisation (BIS) study that said tap water in Delhi was “undrinkable”.
Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi wore an anti-pollution mask. In front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, he carried a placard with pictures comparing healthy lungs with of those affected by pollution.
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar also ditched conventional fuel cars and came to Parliament in an electric car. “The government is gradually switching to electric cars as they are pollution-free. I appeal to people to contribute to fight pollution- start using public transport, electric vehicles,” he told reporters.
BJP MP Ravi Kishen, too, reached the Parliament in a bicycle.
The Lok Sabha decided to take up two bills to replace the ordinance on e-cigarette and corporate tax. The government has banned e-cigarettes and slashed corporate tax rates during the past few months. The Lok Sabha will also take up the first batch of supplementary demand for grants in this week and amendments to the Constitutional Order (Schedulded Tribes) to allow additional communities get the status of Scheduled Tribes.