Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said that air pollution caused due to stubble burning can be controlled in less than four years if the Centre and other state governments show “political will”.
In a press briefing, Kejriwal urged the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to hold monthly meetings with the chief ministers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab on the matter.
“I believe the pollution due to stubble burning can be controlled in a short span of time,” he said. “But a lack of political will is visible in doing that.”
The air quality index of Delhi was 252 at 8 pm, according to government-run monitoring agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research. This indicates “very poor” conditions that pose a risk of respiratory problems. The AQI was in the “poor category” for six consecutive days after it began to decline on October 7 for the first time in over three months. It deteriorated to the “very poor” category for the first time this season on October 13.
Kejriwal said he agreed with Javadekar’s view that air pollution was not a problem faced by Delhi alone, but that of the entire National Capital Region.
The Delhi chief minister also listed a number of measures using which, he claimed, crop residue could be biodegraded or converted into biogas, coal or cardboard. He said this government will use chemicals in farms within Delhi to turn stubble into fertiliser.
Last week, Kejriwal had said staying in denial will not help, in response to Javadekar’s claim that only 4% of the air pollution in Delhi is caused due to stubble burning, while the rest is due to local factors. On Monday too, Kejriwal touched upon the matter. He maintained that even the Supreme Court has now said that the major cause of pollution during the winter months is stubble burning.
On October 16, the Supreme Court appointed retired judge Madan B Lokur to lead a committee monitoring instances of stubble burning in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.