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Punjab minister counters Kejriwal on Delhi’s pollution

Chandigarh, Nov 2 (IANS) Punjab Environment Minister O.P. Soni on Friday took on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for blaming Punjab farmers for Delhi’s pollution, saying Kejriwal should first look within Delhi before blaming Punjab’s hard-working farmers.

Soni took strong exception to Kejriwal’s statement blaming stubble-burning by Punjab farmers for Delhi’s air pollution, saying Kejriwal should look for internal reasons for Delhi’s pollution as mentioned by the National Green Tribunal.

“Kejriwal should see scientific facts and logic before blaming hard-working farmers of Punjab who have opted for various means offered by the government to manage paddy stubble, discarding the practice of burning it in open fields,” Soni told media.

Soni said the average air quality index (AQI) of Punjab in October remained below 170, while in Delhi it was above 350.

“The average wind velocity remained below 1.5 km per hour and wind direction was from south-east and going to north-west but not towards Delhi. How can the air pollutants reach Delhi, which is about 250 km from Punjab border and that too crossing whole of Haryana, which is burning its stubble in open fields?” Soni asked.

He said that he was surprised to see that Kejriwal has exonerated Haryana because of certain political considerations” though all the adjoining states of Delhi are burning their stubble in open fields.

“If farmers of Punjab were the contribution factor for the bad air quality in Delhi, then how has the Chandigarh survived?” Soni asked.

The minister said to date only 21,000 fire incidents have been reported from 65 lakh acres in Punjab where paddy is sown. This means only 323 fire incidents per one lakh acre, he said, ruling out stubble-burning in Punjab to be responsible for Delhi’s pollution.

Soni advised Kejriwal “not to go for blame-game but find out the reasons of air pollution within Delhi and address them.”



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