AAP, BJP trade barbs over Delhi's 'most polluted capital city'
New Delhi, Mar 17: A day after Delhi was declared as the most polluted capital city in the world, the ruling AAP and opposition BJP on Wednesday indulged in a blame game over the issue of pollution in the national capital.
Delhi BJP spokespersons Harish Khurana and Praveen Shankar Kapoor, in a press conference, alleged that the Arvind Kejriwal government failed to utilise its environment budget. Citing documents, they claimed that during financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21, the AAP government "failed" to utilise the budget allocated for environment.
In the current year 2020-21 alone, over 60 per cent of the environment budget is about to lapse, they said. The Kejriwal government should immediately form an expert committee to study various reasons of pollution throughout the year and suggest ways to curb it, the BJP leaders demanded.
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai, however, said the "central government had allowed the lapse of the Commission for Air Quality Management, and until the Centre gets serious about combating pollution, nothing could be done".
Twenty-two of the world's 30 most polluted cities are in India, with Delhi being ranked as the most polluted capital city globally, the World Air Quality Report, 2020 said on Tuesday.
The report, prepared by Swiss organization IQAir, was released globally. It, however, shows that Delhi's air quality improved by approximately 15 per cent from 2019 to 2020. "The recent report of Green Peace Asia saying that 54,000 people lost their lives in 2020 in Delhi due to pollution speaks volumes about the Kejriwal government's incompetence to control pollution," Khurana charged.
Kapoor alleged that instead of working to bring a holistic plan to fight pollution, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders are wasting time on accusing the Centre. "Delhi has turned into a gas chamber, but shockingly there is no study report to scientifically tell the reasons of pollution growth in Delhi. Who is stopping the Kejriwal government to launch an effective anti-pollution campaign?" he asked.
Defending the Delhi government, Rai said efforts of the ruling dispensation have helped reduce pollution by up to 15 per cent in the city. "We are increasing the green belt, brought in a progressive electric vehicle policy and working towards making Delhi more environment-friendly," he said.
The Delhi government had submitted a petition to the Commission for Air Quality Management to address stubble burning, but now with the Commission having lapsed, the issue remains unaddressed, he said.
The minister reiterated that it was now up to the central government to do its part. "The intention of the central government was clear, which had done nothing to shut down polluting thermal power plants that are still functional in neighbouring states. It also had taken no step to shut down brick kilns, and the result is for all to see," he added.