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Don't politicise pollution, need to sit together and find solution to stubble burning: Kejriwal

twitter-logoPTI | November 3, 2019 | Updated 21:21 IST

(Eds: Adding more quotes of Kejriwal and AAP leader, updating AQI data) New Delhi, Nov 3 (PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said the issue of pollution should not be "politicised" and called on all neighbouring states and the Centre to "sit together" and deliberate on how to prevent stubble burning as the air quality in the national capital deteriorated to alarming levels. Kejriwal said his government was not indulging in "blame game" but looking for solutions to pollution caused by stubble burning. "The media is telling us not to play the blame-game. But I want to tell them that we do not want to play the blame-game. We are not blaming anybody, we are saying that all the people should come together and find a solution," he said. "There should be no politics. It is a matter of grave concern for all of us, our health is at stake. What will we get by playing a blame-game? We are just saying that the smoke in Delhi is due to stubble burning and we have to stop it collectively," he said in a video message. Kejriwal further questioned the pace at which the Centre is distributing straw management machines to farmers to stop stubble burning. "Till now 63,000 machines have been made available to farmers in Punjab and Haryana. There are 27 lakh farmers in these states. How long would it take to distribute these machines to all these farmers. For how long do we have to bear this pollution," he said. Kejriwal called on all neighbouring states and the Centre to "sit together" and deliberate on solving the pollution caused in Delhi due to stubble burning. The chief minister also appealed to people to follow the odd-even road rationing scheme beginning Monday. "I urge people to use to car-pooling when they are not able to drive their car during this scheme. I will also be following the scheme strictly," he said. He advised people to use masks when they have trouble breathing. "I am sending you masks through school students, and I shall advise you to use them when you are having trouble breathing. I am very concerned about the two crore people of Delhi, and I pray to God that you all remain in good health. Let's all come together to fight pollution," he said. He claimed that till a few years back, Delhi used to be polluted all year long. "But the people of Delhi have taken several measures to battle pollution in the state. We have 24-hour electricity in Delhi and the diesel generators are no longer in use which has reduced pollution considerably in Delhi. We have carried out afforestation on 600 acres of land, which has increased the forest cover in the state thereby reducing pollution," he said, listing out some of the initiatives. He further said that the Central Government has constructed the East-West peripheral highway outside Delhi, which has stopped the trucks entering the capital in the night to transport goods from one location to another. "We have done whatever we could to reduce pollution in the state in the rest of the year. The smoke from stubble burning has been causing pollution in Delhi from the last 20 days," he said. In a separate press conference, senior party leader Atishi said AAP wants to ask five questions to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. "Having this portfolio it is his responsibility to answer the question how his Govt. is working to combat the air pollution situation in India," Atishi asked. "What the central govt has done to curb stubble burning in Punjab & Haryana. As per affidavit filed by central govt to the SC, it is noted that they have distributed only 63,000 machines as an alternative to stubble whereas total number of farmers is approx 22 lakh," she said. Atishi said according to the NASA satellite images all the north Indian states are reeling around thick smog and the air-quality has reached emergency level. "Why central govt in last 5 days has not called any emergency meeting on this issue with all environment ministers of all concerned states," she asked. "My fourth question is when will the central government call an emergency meeting with all the environment ministers of north Indian states and I want to know the answer today," she asked. "This year we have witnessed the pollution, I want to know for the next year what is the time-bound plan of central gov to combat stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana because due to stubble burning not only Delhi but also half of India is facing severe air pollution," she said. Delhi is witnessing one of the worst episodes of pollution. Pollution levels in Delhi peaked to a three-year high on Sunday as hundreds of distraught people took to social media to say they wanted to leave the city due to poor air quality. At 7 pm, the AQI was recorded in severe category at 490, remaining points away from going off the chart. An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'. Above 500 falls in the 'severe plus' category. The share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution stood at 46 per cent on Friday, the highest so far. It dropped to 17 per cent on Saturday and is expected to be 12 per cent on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor SAFAR. PTI UZM SMN

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