New Delhi, Nov 10: What is more toxic--Delhi air or politics over Delhi pollution? It's difficult to answer the question as both politics and environment have turned too poisonous.
At a time when the national capital is facing a "public health emergency situation" due to severe air pollution level, our politicians instead of joining hands to tackle the situation are busy engaging in blame game.
From the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the Congress, leaders of all these political parties are either maintaining a stoic silence over the worrisome environmental crisis or are busy blaming the other person for the current layer of smog engulfing the national capital for the last few days.
On Thursday, the AAP, Delhi's ruling party, decided to target the Narendra Modi government for keeping "mum" over the alarming level of air pollution in the national capital and said that its government was ready to work with neighbouring states to combat the problem.
The AAP did not stop at that. Hitting out at Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan, who was away to attend the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit in Germany, AAP's Delhi unit convener Gopal Rai said the minister is "missing" in the hours of crisis.
"Why is the Centre mum over this problem? The BJP and Congress are projecting the crisis in a way that the Delhi government is doing nothing. We appeal to both these parties that Delhi government wants to work keeping all its political differences aside," Rai said.
Now, here is what the Congress has to say about Delhi air pollution.
Since the grand old party is out of power both in Delhi and at the Centre, except for its government in neighbouring Punjab, decided to attack both the BJP and the AAP.
On Thursday, the Congress accused the Centre and the Delhi government of failing to take effective steps to check the high pollution level in the city and asked how they intended to combat the situation in the long-run.
"The central and Delhi governments are responsible for the pollution (levels) in Delhi. They cannot shy away from their responsibilities by blaming farmers," Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.
Referring to Prime Minister Modi's remark that India is committed to Paris Climate Change Accord, Surjewala asked if "he could see the change in climate in the national capital".
As earlier Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had blamed the thick, deadly smog covering the capital mainly on stubble burning in neighbouring states, his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh on Thursday angrily reacted to the AAP convener's allegation.
"Mr Kejriwal is a very peculiar person...he has his own viewpoints on everything without understanding the situation," Singh said.
"If I have got 20 million tonnes of paddy straw, if I ask the farmer to store this, farms will be covered with the paddy straw. Mr Kejriwal doesn't understand this problem," added the Punjab CM.
However, unlike his party colleague Rai who had blamed the Centre for the situation, good sense prevailed when Kejriwal asked Punjab (ruled by the Congress) and Haryana (ruled by the BJP) governments to rise above politics and help evolve a solution to Delhi's air quality emergency.
Stubble burning in neighbouring states of Delhi during the winter season is one of the major causes of alarming rise in pollution level in the national capital. However, experts maintain that stubble burning is not the only cause of air pollution but is an addition to the already frightening scenario.
"All of us (North Indian states) will have to keep politics aside and work together to tackle this huge problem of pollution," Kejriwal said.
In fact, the Delhi CM has been requesting his Haryana and Punjab counterparts to sit together to discuss Delhi's apocalyptic scenario. But Singh disagrees with Kejriwal and wants a meeting of the PM with the CMs of all affected states.
"Have requested PM to convene meeting of Chief Ministers of affected states along with union ministers... Just my meeting with Delhi CM resolves nothing," Singh said.
When Delhi is in a state of coma as thick smog has choked the skyline of the city, our politicians can't even arrive at an understanding over a simple act of arranging a meeting and discussing the problem.
While no senior BJP leader has mouthed any venom over the pollution issue, the silence of the PM is more suffocating as he is yet to say a single word about the crisis.
Targetting the PM over his silence on the grave matter, his party colleague and Bihar BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha tweeted, "Humble appeal to our one-man show & two man army...what are we doing about the deadly pollution crisis? Why have we not spelt out our short term & long term measures? Why not top priority to tackle this poisonous killer?"
Humble appeal to our one man show & two man army...what are we doing about the deadly pollution crisis? Why have we not spelt out our short term & long term measures? Why not top priority to tackle this poisonous killer? 1>2— Shatrughan Sinha (@ShatruganSinha) November 9, 2017
The environment minister attempted to brush aside the concern over the pollution issue by stating that air quality levels in the national capital will come back to normal within the "next few days" and that pollution levels had dropped considerably over the last 24 hours.
His cabinet colleague Nitin Gadkari said, "Automobiles, industries and construction work continues round the year, so, why is it that such a situation has occurred now? The reason behind this should be researched for thoroughly to find a solution."
If only our politicians had realised that the "gas chamber" Delhi might explode anytime soon, they won't have possibly acted so irresponsibly by bringing politics into pollution.