Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday criticised Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his blaming his government for the rising pollution in the national Capital, PTI reported.

“The air pollution in New Delhi was directly related to the rampant construction activity, widespread industrialisation and total mismanagement of the city traffic,” Singh said. He claimed Kejriwal was trying to “divert public attention from his own government’s failures” by indulging in such “outright lies”.

“By blaming others for his own lapses, Kejriwal was showing signs of his poor leadership,” the Punjab chief minister added.

He called Kejriwal a “liar” and accused him of resorting to “political gimmickry” after failing to solve the pollution problem in Delhi for the last five years. “The sudden spike in pollution levels in Delhi post Diwali was quite evidently linked with the firecrackers, which Kejriwal and his government failed to control despite the Supreme Court’s directives in this regard,” Singh said.

“If stubble burning was the primary cause of Delhi’s air pollution, as Kejriwal claimed it to be, then how could he explain the atrociously high AQI in the national Capital even during months of December and January,” Singh asked. He told Kejriwal to explain how the air quality index in Punjab, where the stubble burning incidents took place, was much better than Delhi.

“Is Kejriwal so dumb that he could not see the correlation between these figures and the current AQI levels in Delhi,” Singh said, and asked him to stop “restoring to such theatrics”.

Singh blamed firecrackers and Aam Aadmi Party’s failure to control them for the spike in pollution levels.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal appealed to Punjab and Haryana “with folded hands” to take concrete steps against stubble burning so that Delhi did not become a “gas chamber”. He said at his level they were making all possible efforts to improve the air quality.

Air quality in severe category

A haze of pollution continued to blanket the National Capital Region on Wednesday as pollution levels deteriorated to the “severe” category. The haze can be “purely” attributed to stubble burning in nearby states, whose share in Delhi’s pollution rose to the season’s highest of 35% on Wednesday, said the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or SAFAR.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the decision to shut schools will be taken “when the need arises”, PTI reported. Meanwhile, some schools advised parents to send their children for classes wearing masks and said they have shifted all outdoor activities.

Kejriwal also announced that Delhi government will distribute masks among school students from Friday.

The Central Pollution Control Board recommended to extend the ban on night-time construction in Delhi-NCR till November 2, and asked Punjab and Haryana to take immediate action to curb stubble burning.

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