There has been a 30% reduction in air pollution in the city this year on the day after Deepavali compared with last year, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said on Tuesday.
He also said the number of stubble-burning incidents in AAP-ruled Punjab on the day of Deepavali had reduced to one-third compared with last year (from 3,032 to 1,091), but the same had increased in BJP-governed Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The BJP, however, refuted the claim, saying the Delhi government was “going all out to cover up for its sister government in Punjab for its failure to curb stubble burning in the State”.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal said the results of efforts made by the citizens of Delhi to reduce air pollution were encouraging. “Delhiites are working hard in the field of pollution. There have been very encouraging results. But there is still a long way to go. Will make Delhi the best city in the world,” Mr. Kejriwal added.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri challenged Mr. Kejriwal's claim that pollution had reduced in Delhi. “Delhi is the most polluted capital of the world, and this truth cannot be denied,” he said, adding, “Delhi was ranked as the world's most polluted capital on Deepavali and remained in the top 10 on Tuesday as well. Mr. Kejriwal should prove his claim right or else resign for lying. If my claim is false, I will quit.”
150 anti-smog guns
Mr. Rai said the pollution level in Delhi was the lowest in many years because of the collective efforts of everyone. The Minister also launched 150 mobile anti-smog guns, which are machines mounted on trucks that spray water to reduce dust pollution.
“Last year, we deployed 10 mobile anti-smog guns on roads and it had a positive impact. Keeping that in mind, we are deploying 150 mobile anti-smog guns this year,” he said.
Every day, each mobile anti-smog gun will spray water on a 10 km stretch of road.
Punjab vs BJP States
Mr. Rai said the Punjab government had made significant efforts to reduce cases of stubble burning.
"As per data, Haryana had 228 and Uttar Pradesh had 123 cases of stubble burning on the day of Deepavali last year. As per the figures released yesterday, in Haryana, there were 250 cases, which means that the number of incidents has increased on this year’s Deepavali. Uttar Pradesh also saw a rise in cases, as there were 215 reported incidents on Deepavali day,” he said.
In response, Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said, “Environment Minister Gopal Rai has been looking after the department for the last couple of years and must be knowing that the wind-blowing pattern is such that stubble burning in Punjab affects Delhi much more than that in Haryana, while U.P. burning has no effects on Delhi's AQI level.”
He also said that Delhi and Punjab Chief Ministers have met “a 100 times” in the past six-seven months for political meetings but never sat together to find a solution to the problem of stubble burning.