Arvind Kejriwal urges northern states to join fight against pollution

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday blamed stubble burning in Haryana and Punjab for the “severe” air quality and said the neighbouring states should join hands with Delhi to find a solution.

Kejriwal had on Wednesday written to his Haryana and Punjab counterparts for a meeting on the issue, but Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, in an exchange of tweets, declined it, saying the air pollution level in the National Capital Region (NCR) was not an inter-state matter and needed the Centre’s intervention.

“I haven’t yet got a chance to meet the two Chief Ministers,” Kejriwal said after e-inaugurating the installation of 20 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) in different parts of the capital from a function organised by the Department of Environment.

“During this one-month period from mid-October to mid-November, when farmers burn the stubble … the whole of North India and not just Delhi turns into a gas chamber,” he said.

“In September this year, the PM10 was recorded at 300 units and PM2.5 was 160. Now these figures have gone up to 940 and 750. This certainly hasn’t happened due to the local problems,” he explained.

He said his government and the citizens were ready to take all measures but that wasn’t enough. “All of us (north Indian states) will have to keep politics aside and work together to tackle this huge problem of pollution,” he said.

Talking of a solution to crop burning, he said that farmers should not be forced or fined for stubble burning but rather be provided with an economically viable alternative.

“Farmers find it easiest to burn the stubble. They need to be provided with better alternatives. They are already impoverished and shouldn’t be troubled more with fines.”

He said if health problems caused by pollution rise, then “as a country we should do something and fight against pollution”.

The 20 places where monitoring stations to measure air pollution parameters have been installed include Maj. Dhyanchand National Stadium; Jawaharlal National Stadium; Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range; PGDAV College, Sriniwaspuri; Mother Dairy Plant, Patparganj; Satyawati College; Mundka Metro Residential Colony; Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Rohini; ITI; and Narela.

The other areas are WTP (DJB), Sonia Vihar, DITE Okhla; Ch. Brahm Prakash Ayurvedic Hospital; Mahrishi Valmiki Hospital, Pooth Khurd; MGICCC, Bakoli; National Institute of Tuberculosis & Respiratory Disease, Mehrauli; ITI, Jahangirpuri; IARI, PUSA; National Institute of Malaria Research, Sector-8, Dwarka; DITE, Wazirpur; and ITI, Shahadra.