Odd politics over pollution even as Delhi gasps for breath

The Supreme Court observed that cars contribute just 3% to pollution and that garbage dumping, construction wastes were major contributors to the alarming spike in pollution levels. photo: PTI File.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s odd-even plan got a rap in the knuckles from the Supreme Court on Friday when it said that the scheme wasn’t a permanent solution to tackle air pollution in the state and the National Capital Region (NCR).

The top court observed that cars contribute just 3% to pollution and that garbage dumping, construction wastes were major contributors to the alarming spike in pollution levels. The court also questioned the Delhi government’s move to exempt 2 and 3-wheelers from the scheme.

Undeterred by the scathing comments by the apex court, Kejriwal said a final call on extending the odd-even scheme would be taken on Monday (November 15).

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Though it was the last day of odd-even, there was no sigh of relief for Delhiites as the Air Quality Index hovered around 500-mark on Friday. According to authorities, a thick layer of toxic smog engulfed the national capital due to stagnation of pollutants in the air and slowing down of dispersion.

POLITCAL INSENSITIVITY

Despite the capital’s worsening air quality and with educational institutions being shut for the last 4 days, top officials and Lok Sabha MPs decided skip a high-level parliamentary meeting to discuss the issue on Friday. When asked about the lack of decorum to hold the meeting, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar said he would “enquire” into the matter.

The meeting convened by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Urban Development was attended by just four MPs out of the 28 members on the panel.

The lone representative in the panel from Delhi, cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir, gave the meeting a miss as he was giving his expert comments to the ongoing India-Bangladesh Test match at Indore.

Gambhir who has been vocal about the alarming levels of air pollution in Delhi, was seen commentating on television on Friday in Indore, where a test match between India and Bangladesh is going on.

After facing flak for his absence in the key meeting, Gambhir took it to twitter to defend himself.

Other top officials who missed the meeting included the environment secretary, a representative of the Delhi Development Authority and the commissioners of the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi.

On Friday, the air quality in Delhi hovered around the “severe” category recorded with PM10 being 504 and PM2.5 according to the government of India’s air quality information service SAFAR.

After Delhi, UP, Haryana and Punjab failed to battle the pollution in the region, the Supreme Court on Friday issued summons to the top officers to appear on November 25.

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