Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda on Sunday said he will introduce a Right to Clean Air Bill in Parliament during the Winter Session, The Indian Express reported. “If we can have the Right to Food Act and Right to Education Act, why can’t we have a Right to Clean Air Act?” the Rohtak MP said. “Without food, you can survive for days, but without air you can’t survive for even a minute.”
Hooda on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to take note of the air pollution problem and head a panel of chief ministers of all North Indian states to tackle the health hazard. “Children are the worst hit, and I think you would agree with me when I say that every child has the right to grow up in clean air,” Hooda said in his letter to Modi. “Matters have reached a point where every child, elderly persons and people from all age groups have been exposed to levels of smoke that comes from smoking about 50 cigarettes.”
The Congress leader also called Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan’s remarks “underplaying” the pollution in Delhi as “unfortunate”. On Friday, Vardhan had said the government cannot undertake a surgical strike against air pollution, which he said has to be tackled by the states. The minister also dismissed the Aam Aadmi Party’s claim that the Centre was not doing enough to combat the smog choking Delhi.
Hooda, the only Opposition MP from the National Capital Region, told The Indian Express that it was unlikely that the Bharatiya Janata Party would take up the issue in Parliament, as it held 18 of the 19 seats from the region. “The problem is that air – the most essential thing for life – is not a political issue,” he said. “To something like the film Padmavati, everyone, including my own party, will react. But something like this [pollution], it doesn’t seem an important issue at all.”