New Delhi: In a day-long discussion on air pollution crisis, particularly in national capital Delhi, the MPs in Lok Sabha seemed to agree only on two points. The first was that everyone needed to rise above party politics and second that farmers shouldn’t be blamed for stubble burning.
However, despite the lawmakers talking about coming together and rising above party differences to tackle the issue, the political rivals took potshots at each other.
While three BJP MPs from Delhi used the opportunity to target Delhi government over its alleged inability to curb air pollution, former union minister and Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant criticised the BJP over felling of tress in Mumbai’s Aarey forest. Danish Ali of the BSP took a jibe at BJP MP Hema Malini, without naming her name for advertising air purifiers while doing little to controlling air pollution.
Despite the severity of air pollution in most parts of north India, only 115 of the total 534 MPs attended the session.
Slamming the government of cutting of trees in Aarey forests for metro line, Sena’s Sawant said the need is to look at long term solution to tackle climate change.
“Maharashtra hadn’t seen such delayed rains and floods in the last 50 or 60 years. It is true that climate change is affecting us. We need to look at long term solutions and look at the consequences of decision we’re taking today. Mumbai had only two lungs, Sanjay Van and Aarey forests where 2700 trees in one night,” Sawant said.
BSP’s Amroha MP Ali took a dig at Hema Malini without naming her.
“Poor farmers are being unnecessarily being dragged into this debate. They don’t have a lobby. They don’t have a PR machinery in media like some people who have become brand ambassadors of air purifiers. I am not talking about any man or woman from this House,” Ali said.
Three BJP MPs who attended Tuesday’s session, Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma, Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwari, cornered Kejriwal government on its odd-even vehicle rationing scheme and his alleged inability to tackle pollution coming from landfill sites, and over the alleged violation SC norms by construction works Delhi government sponsored construction projects.
Cricker-turned-East Delhi MP Gambhir, who was recently in news for skipping crucial meeting on air pollution in Delhi for a cricket commentary in Indore, slammed the Delhi government and took veiled dig at ‘odd-even scheme’ terming it as short-term measures.
“The biggest polluter of my constituency is the Ghazipur landfill. If one stands around 200 meters away from it, one would know what hell feels like. I have been working to tackle pollution in my constituency by ordering machines worth Rs 90 crore to ensure fresh air through sprinklers and air purifiers,” Gambhir said.
Congress’ Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari said the parties need to rise above party politics as the issue of air pollution is affecting everyone.
“This is not opposition versus ruling party issue. This is an issue that affects all, which forces us to rise over our party differences. Many members of our house have expressed dismay over ‘activism’ of our judiciary but it must also be answered that why people are forced to knock on the doors of the Supreme Court. Why does Supreme Court have to remind governments of their duties? ” Tewari asked.
He cited the example of China which controlled the air pollution in Beijing, which was once among the most polluted cities of the world. He further said, “We don’t support stubble burning, but small farmers are forced to burn stubble due to their small economics. If you make the small farmer a scapegoat, you won’t be doing justice to them.”
Pinaki Mishra, BJD’s Puri MP echoed Tewari’s statements and proposed a solution to stubble burning by incentivizing farmers to alter their crop cycles. “Stubble burning happened in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab from October 8 onwards. But a significant drop in Delhi’s air quality was noticed only after Diwali which was on October 27. Stubble burning is a contributor but not a primary source of pollution. One has to subsidise alternative crops, ” he said.
Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar made her point by starting her speech wearing a mask. “After Swachh Bharat Mission, we need a Swachh Hawa Mission. We are staring at the face of a national calamity. We might be staring at mass asphyxia,” Dastidar said.
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