Air pollution: Three states, three parties and a smog-filled political plot

New Delhi: The smog screen over national capital may be thinning but the political plot is thickening. The fact that the three neighboring states — Delhi, Haryana and Punjab — are ruled by three different parties has not helped matters.
After tweets flying back and forth between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar on November 13 over their respective teams trying to “reach out” to the other for a meeting at Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party leader tweeted that he will be coming down to meet Khattar in Chandigarh on November 15.
On November 14, Kejriwal tweeted to Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh too to spare some time. “Sir, I am coming to Chandigarh on Wed to meet Haryana CM. Would be grateful if u cud spare sometime to meet me. It is in collective interest.” Amarinder responded through a press statement by asking Kejriwal not to “politice a serious issue”.
Amarinder, who had turned down Kejriwal’s offer for a meeting last Wednesday, once again snubbed the Delhi CM saying he failed to understand why the AAP leader was trying to force his hand, knowing well that any such discussion would be “meaningless and futile”.
“Kejriwal’s tendency to indulge in petty street politics was well-known. The AAP leader was evidently trying to divert public attention from his own government’s failure in Delhi to check the problem of pollution, as exposed by the response of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to the ill-conceived odd-even scheme,” Amarinder said.
Claiming that the problems faced by Delhi and Punjab were completely divergent, the Punjab CM said there was no meeting ground. “Unlike Punjab, the Delhi problem was the result mainly of urban pollution caused by mismanaged transportation and unplanned industrial development. Instead of focusing all his attention on resolving these issues, Kejriwal wanted to waste time holding useless discussions,” he said , adding that he did not have the same luxury of time.
The Punjab CM said stubble burning is not a political issue as Kejriwal was trying to project it as but was an economic problem crying for economic solutions, which the central government alone is in a position to provide and he would continue to pursue with the Centre the matter of compensatory allowance for farmers to enable them to opt for alternatives to stubble burning.
As farm fires raged, all three chief ministers blamed each other for the smog crisis. Khattar called Punjab a “bigger culprit” saying the state had not used “a penny out of Rs 98 crore allotted to check farm fires while Haryana used Rs 39 crore out of Rs 45 crores allotted to it”. Amarinder said Kejriwal “has his own viewpoints on everything without understanding the situation” and Kejriwal asked both Punjab and Haryana governments to rise above politics.

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