Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday urged the governments of Delhi’s neighbouring states to ensure that 2020 be the last year when air pollution in the Capital reaches “severe” levels, blaming crop burning for the annual spike that plunges the city into a public health emergency.
Speaking at the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Kejriwal also linked air pollution with the volume and intensity of the third wave of Covid-19 cases in the Capital, saying it led to both faster transmission and fatalities.
“Experts have said that pollution has played a major role in the third wave of Covid-19 in Delhi – for the third wave happening in the first place, and in terms of intensity and death. Though I am not ruling out other contributing factors. Pollution aggravates the condition of Covid-19 patients.”
Kejriwal said the source of the pollution problem was clear.
“Why does the air pollution problem in Delhi happen every year?” he asked rhetorically, highlighting the stubble-burning link with air quality in the Capital. “This year, it started on October 10 and things have gotten normal since early this week. The sky is clear too. It proves that it is not because of local sources of pollution. Some attribute the air pollution to vehicular pollution. Have the number of vehicles in Delhi halved in the last 48 hours? No. Or did vehicles abruptly increase on October 10? No. Obviously the pollution comes from stubble burning and it has to be tackled. No solution will come out of politicising the issue,” he added.
Also Read| HTLS 2020: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal hopes 3rd wave may recede if trend holds
The CM in recent weeks has been talking up a bio decomposer compound, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (commonly referred to as the Pusa institute), and spread by the Delhi government over more than 800 acres of farmland in the Capital last month as an experimental measure to find alternatives to crop stubble burning. The government has maintained that the mixture decomposes crop stubble in about 10 days, leaving no need for it to be burnt to free up the land for winter sowing.
“The Delhi government has come up with a solution now. If spread on the field, the biochemical converts stubble into manure. It is a double advantage. This year, the Delhi government has spread that in all farmlands in the city. Delhi farmers are happy. If the Delhi government can do, so can Punjab and Haryana too,” said Kejriwal.
Sharing the results of the bio-decomposer experiment, Kejriwal said earlier this week that samples collected from farmlands in 24 villages in the Capital showed that 70%-95% of the crop stubble had turned into manure at a cost of just Rs 30 per acre.
Also Read: Finer, deadlier PM1 shoots up in Delhi due to crop burning, crackers
“I urge other governments to ensure this should be the last year of such high pollution. From next year, nobody has the excuse any longer that they cannot handle the problem,” Kejriwal said at the summit.
Kejriwal said he did not rule out other factors –including local sources — that played a role in air pollution, but insisted the government has succeeded in controlling them to some degree.
“Delhi has succeeded in significantly decreasing local sources of pollution,” Kejriwal said, highlighting his government’s role in changing fuel use in industrial areas, ensuring round-the-clock power supply that has reduced diesel generator use, and changing land-use policies that would take pollutants out of high-density residential areas by setting up a new industrial zone in Rani Khera village in Outer Delhi.
Also Watch: Covid: Delhi vs New York comparison by CM Kejriwal amid 3rd wave #HTLS2020
‘WILL CLEAN MCD MESS’
Kejriwal, who is also the national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led municipal corporations in Delhi of mismanagement. “Today, MCDs have financially collapsed. They can’t even pay salaries. How can they make employees work? They are witnessing strikes. That has to be cured. If run honestly, financial troubles should not happen in MCDs. It is a matter of intent,” he said.
When asked about the MCD polls that are likely to be scheduled next year, Kejriwal said, “We have reformed schools, hospitals, power supply and roads in Delhi. We can manage MCDs too.”