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Lok Sabha members demand national plan to deal with pollution

The MPs accepted that stubble burning is one of the reasons for air pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) but said that shifting whole blame on small and poor farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh was bad.

IANS | New Delhi |

Cutting across the party line, lawmakers on Thursday demanded in the Lok Sabha for a “national action plan” to deal with air pollution while emphasizing that farmers should not be blamed for the deteriorating air quality in Delhi as they are also the victims of climate change.

Participating in over two-hour long discussion on ‘air pollution and climate change’ which resumed again in the House on Thursday after one day gap from its initiation on Tuesday, some sought for the integration of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

They unanimously said that vehicles, dust, construction and industries, power plants too are responsible for poor air quality and it was wrong to blame farmers of the neighbouring states of Delhi for the current situation of polluted air, demanding to conduct combined efforts by all ministries like environment, health and transport.

The MPs accepted that stubble burning is one of the reasons of air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) but said that shifting whole blame on small and poor farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh was bad.

On the toxic air quality of Delhi, Congress’ Shashi Tharoor said there is a need for a national action plan to deal with the issue.

“Except this debate, so far, nothing has been given for the due recognition to the issue which it deserves. After and before Diwali the debate on the issue peaks up. But, it is a national issue, a perennial issue. It’s a perennial problem we must solve together I would urge to work so that we can give our children a decent air to breath.”

BJP leader and MP Meenakshi Lekhi, said this is a global issue and criticised Delhi Chief Minister for investing money on advertisement, saying it is not “worth it”. “The worth it effort should be how do we deal with CNG waste in Delhi because you find 2.5 ppm particle in the air and that is the dust we need to control.”

“The Aravali jungles has been cut and we need to work on that strategy. So far as water pollution is concerned, heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and chromium has come up because you (Delhi government) did not provide good water to the people.

Speaking on the issue, BJP’s Satya Pal Singh said the air pollution is a problem caused by modernisation, and noted as everyone is responsible for polluting air through different ways, it is the responsibility of everyone to keep it claim.

Referring to old ways mentioned in Indian culture, Singh requested government to keep focus on “yagya” along with plantation of trees.

Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel said that “we should work in the direction to bring down particulate matter 2.5 and 10.”

“The pollution level in Delhi, NCR has been deteriorated in the last few years and farmers are being blamed for it as they are involved in stubble burning. Such acts are against the farmers. It is incorrect to blame only farmers for the air pollution.”

Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule said also rejected blame on farmers that air pollution increased only because of stubble burning and factories. “In my area there is no stubble burning, no factories but the air pollution are very severe there too.”

“The air act has to be integrated which a lot of countries like Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines are doing much better to deal with pollution. In Maharashtra elections we and Congress had a point in our manifesto for climate change.”

She said instead of wasting money by all state and Central governments on advertisements, they should put all this money on social sectors and especially on healthcare.

Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ritesh Pandey said that climate change affects farmers more than anyone so they should not be blamed for it.

“Due to untimely monsoon, farmers face problem because 50-60 per cent of them are dependent on it… the government is not serious about climate change… More people are dying due to pollution compared to terrorism. A national action plan is needed to deal with pollution and climate change.”

Telugu Desam Party’s Rammohan Naidu said there is responsibility of the government to deal with air pollution.

“Nature has provided us air with no cost but modern civilization is putting a price on that which is the condition now… Hard earned labourer cannot have even excess to fresh air where he is not responsible for creating pollution. The rich are able to get air through air purifier but they are not.

“My request would to the Centre to create a national action plan or some environmental policy or any law so that people follow it.”

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar will reply over the discussion on Friday.