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  India   All India  16 Nov 2019  MPs, officials skip meet on NCR pollution

MPs, officials skip meet on NCR pollution

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANJAY KAW
Published : Nov 16, 2019, 2:49 am IST
Updated : Nov 16, 2019, 6:04 am IST

Only 4 out of 29 turn up at meet.

East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir  was among the many MPs who skipped the meeting, but his pictures, laughing and enjoying sweets with his former cricket colleagues in Indore, appeared on social media to his great embarrassment.
 East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir was among the many MPs who skipped the meeting, but his pictures, laughing and enjoying sweets with his former cricket colleagues in Indore, appeared on social media to his great embarrassment.

New Delhi: At a time when air pollution has crossed dangerous levels and become a major health hazard in Delhi-NCR, a Parliamentary Standing Committee meet, called on Friday to discuss whether the government intends to fix responsibility and accountability for actions and inactions, had to be cancelled as several MPs, commissioners of the capital’s three BJP-ruled municipal corporations, the vice-chairperson of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) did not turn up.

A total of 21 Lok Sabha members and eight Rajya Sabha members had been asked to attend the JPC meet, out whom only four — chairman Jagdambika Pal, Hasnain Masoodi, C.R. Patil and Sanjay Singh — turned up.

Former cricketer and BJP’s East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir, whose name was among the Lok Sabha members summoned for the meeting, was among the many who skipped the meeting, but his pictures, laughing and enjoying sweets with his former cricket colleagues in Indore, appeared on social media to his great embarrassment.

The JPC also took a stern view of the officers’ absence, with its chairman Jagdambika Pal saying he will write to the Speaker about the misconduct. “There was no communication to the committee about the unavailability of the officials,” he said.

With Delhi remaining blanketed by a thick smog for the fourth consecutive day, the Supreme Court on Friday again summoned chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to know about the steps taken by them to reduce air pollution. The court questioned the AAP government over granting exemptions, including to two- and three-wheelers, during its Even-Odd scheme and said that pollution level in Delhi is increasing in spite of the vehicle rotation scheme being in force.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said a final call on extending the Even-Odd scheme would be taken on Monday morning as the air quality in the national capital is expected to improve in the next two-three days. “Air quality is predicted to improve over the next two-three days. We are keeping an eye on the situation. If it improves, there will be no need for (extending) odd-even. A final call will be taken on Monday morning,” he said. The road-rationing scheme, rolled out on November 4, ended on Friday.

The questions that the JPC members were planning to take up in the JPC included any plans by the government to come up with any car pool policy or regulation. About 50 lakh cars ply on Delhi roads everyday.

Another issue that the JPC was to look into was the quantitative and qualitative utilisation report of the Rs 1,150 crore given by the Centre to Punjab and Haryana in the last one year to combat air pollution, along with 14,000 crop residue disposal machines.

The third issue pertained to the Supreme Court’s recent observation that everybody, ranging from the secretary to the gram pradhan, will be held responsible for losses due to air pollution. The JPC was to seek the Centre’s response on whether it intends to define and fix responsibility through an internal mechanism.

The national capital is battling alarming levels of air pollution for the past few weeks. The air quality index in Delhi stood at 463 at 4 pm on Friday, with Dwarka Sector 8 being the most-polluted area with an AQI of 495. Most of the air quality monitoring stations recorded an AQI above 450.

Neighbouring Faridabad (450), Ghaziabad (475), Greater Noida (445), Gurgaon (461) and Noida (474) too continued to reel under severe air quality. An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’.

The government’s air quality monitoring and forecasting service SAFAR said drizzle on Thursday night proved counter-productive and led to formation of secondary particles — a situation Delhi witnessed in the first week of November. The situation may worsen due to a drizzle on Friday night.

Delhi’s AAP government, which has been facing flak from Oppositon parties, was quick to take a dig at Mr Gambir on Friday. The AAP said the agenda for the meeting was shared a week ago and asked if the cricketer’s seriousness on pollution was “limited to the commentary box.”

On November 1, Mr Gambhir had tweeted, “@ARVINDKEJRIWAL Will you now honestly tell Delhi what you have done for curbing pollution or will you just do press conferences and send your twitter goons to attack anyone who questions you?

Tags: air pollution, delhi-ncr
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi