*Time to stop the blame game, pollution isn’t limited to Delhi-Punjab, whole of North India needs a concrete solution: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
*We got only six months to work on the problem in Punjab; despite all challenges Punjab Government made a concerted effort in a short while, the situation will be much better next year: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
*Primary schools to be closed in Delhi from tomorrow; exploring the need of Odd-Even as well: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
*Centre needs to hold joint meetings to work on the causes of pollution, this is the only way to save North India from the impact of pollution: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
*The AQI levels of the cities of UP, Haryana, Bihar and Rajasthan are as bad as Delhi: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
*The AQI level of all these cities isn’t worsening because of Kejriwal, if abusing Kejriwal can reduce pollution, go ahead and do it: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
*Yes, stubble is being burnt in Punjab, we take responsibility for it; the farmers can’t be blamed for it: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
*We deployed 1.20 lac machines to tackle stubble, developed Bio-Energy Plant, built an app amongst other targeted efforts for stubble management: Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann*
*We will solve the problem of stubble by November next year, take my word for it; Centre should also cooperate and work on it, this concerns the whole of North India: CM Bhagwant Mann*
*Filing FIRs is not an index for pollution, neither is it a solution; if someone isn’t filing FIRs in their state it doesn’t mean they aren’t burning stubble: CM Bhagwant Mann*
NEW DELHI: 4TH NOVEMBER 2022-In an unprecedented display of accountability and responsibility, Delhi CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Sardar Bhagwant Mann jointly addressed the menace of pollution on Friday. The two CM laid focus on how the problem concerns the larger landscape of North India and needs a concerted effort on part of the Centre. They also owned up their duties, saying stubble burning wasn’t the fault of the farmers, but a shortcoming on the side of the government which will not be allowed to be repeated in the future.
On the occasion, CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal said, “Time to stop the blame game, pollution isn’t limited to Delhi-Punjab, the whole of North India needs a concrete solution. We got only six months to work on the problem in Punjab; despite all challenges the Punjab Government made a concerted effort in a short while, the situation will be much better next year. Primary schools to be closed in Delhi from tomorrow; exploring the need of Odd-Even as well. Centre needs to hold joint meetings to work on the causes of pollution, this is the only way to save North India from the impact of pollution. The AQI levels of the cities of UP, Haryana, Bihar and Rajasthan are as bad as Delhi. The AQI level of all these cities isn’t worsening because of Kejriwal, if abusing Kejriwal can reduce pollution, go ahead and do it. Yes, stubble is being burnt in Punjab, we take responsibility for it; the farmers can’t be blamed for it.”
CM Sardar Bhagwant Mann said, “We deployed 1.20 lac machines to tackle stubble, developed Bio-Energy Plant, built an app amongst other targeted efforts for stubble management. We will solve the problem of stubble by November next year, take my word for it; Centre should also cooperate and work on it, this concerns the whole of North India. Filing FIRs is not an index for pollution, neither is it a solution; if someone isn’t filing FIRs in their state it doesn’t mean they aren’t burning stubble.”
*Problem of pollution is shared across the larger landscape of North India, obviously we can’t blame only Delhi and Punjab for it: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
Shri Arvind Kejriwal said, “The AQI of Delhi has worsened over time. Pollution levels have risen causing people to face respiratory problems. Prima facie the matter looks very simple to point fingers. But, there are many facets of this problem. This problem isn’t limited to Delhi alone. It concerns the whole of North India. Besides Delhi, Haryana’s Charkhi Dadri, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Gurgaon, Bahadurgarh, Jind, Manesar, UP’s Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, and Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi, all suffer from severe AQI levels. Beyond this, Haryana’s Dharuhera, Kaithal, Ballabgarh, Panipat, Faridabad, Sonipat, Narnaul, Kurukshetra, UP’s Baghpat, Meerut, Kanpur, and Bihar’s Motihari, Bettiah and Katihar suffer from very poor AQI. The problem of pollution is shared across the larger landscape of North India, so obviously we can’t blame only Delhi and Punjab for it. We can’t blame only the Aam Aadmi Party or Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann for it. The problem is much much more complex than it seems. There’s a variety of local factors, many regional and interstate factors.”
*We take responsibility for stubble burning in Punjab; this is not the time for politics; all states and Centre need to cooperate: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
He added, “Air and wind don't see state boundaries. They can’t be curtailed inside a state. We have said time and again that the quantum of the problem is so huge that the Central Government needs to step up to the challenge of protecting the whole of North India. This is not the time to play the blame game. This is not the time for politics and abuse. Petty politics can’t solve this problem, these people can keep blaming Kejriwal and Mann, we can keep blaming them, but there’s nothing to be gained out of it. Our party runs the governments of Delhi and Punjab. Stubble burning is very evidently taking place in Punjab. We accept our shortcomings there. The farmers can’t be held responsible for it. The day farmers see a solution to this, they’d stop. The stubble smoke that reaches our homes in Delhi first hits these farmers themselves, it impacts their own children in their farmlands. We are at the helm of powers in Punjab, we take responsibility for it.”
*By next year stubble burning will be under control; it has been six months since AAP formed Punjab Government, time period not enough to implement solutions: CM Arvind Kejriwal*
The Delhi CM continued, “It has been six months since we formed the government in Punjab. Six months in governance is a very small time period to inflict change. Punjab has a long list of challenges. There were various nexuses of mafias operating in the state. The menace has now been controlled in the state. Mann Sahab’s government has taken some concrete steps to manage stubble, however the time period at hand for their implementation was very short, some steps bore fruit, some did not. As per our understanding, the whole situation of stubble burning would be largely under control by next year. We are implementing all necessary solutions to help our citizens. In Delhi, primary schools will be closed tomorrow onwards till the situation improves. We are exploring the need of Odd Even as well. I saw the concern of Adesh Gupta Ji as well. He was talking from the perspective of a grandfather to protect his grandchild. Please have faith in us. We are doing everything we can to protect the children of Delhi.” Replying to a media query the CM said, “We are stopping outdoor activities for classes above 5th standard. Sports and outdoor activities will not be allowed. This problem is the problem of the whole of North India. For this, the central government will have to come forward and work on the causes of pollution. Apart from this, there should be a joint meeting and there should be talks with experts. If the pollution of the whole country can end by abusing Kejriwal, then abuse me all you want. We have to find a solution and doing politics will not solve the problem.”
Shri Arvind Kejriwal tweeted a chart of AQI readings of various cities this morning and said, “See the pollution in North Indian towns. It’s not just Punjab and Delhi. Entire North India is suffering from severe pollution. Let’s stop the blame game. Let’s find solutions as a country. It is our first year in Punjab. Punjab Govt tried its best in a short time. By next year, we should see good results.”
*Farmers do not burn stubble out of choice, but necessity; there is only a gap of 10-12 days between the rice and the wheat crop: CM Bhagwant Mann*
Sardar Bhagwant Mann said, “I would like to reiterate that this is not an issue that only affects Delhi or Punjab, but it is an issue that affects all of northern India. The farmer does not burn stubble out of choice, but necessity. There is only a gap of 10-12 days between the rice and the wheat crop. There is no other way around for the farmer to remove the stubble within that short a period, except to use a matchstick and burn it down.”
*We have distributed around 1.2 lakh machines to the farmers to destroy stubble without burning: CM Bhagwant Mann*
He said, “We have distributed around 1.2 lakh machines to the farmers that assist in destroying the crop residue without having to burn them down. Punjab Agricultural University also developed a mobile app, like the way you use an app to book an Uber or an Ola vehicle, similarly this app will help you find out the machine that is the nearest to your location. Our aim has been to install a machine within a 2-3 kilometre radius of every farmer. This app helps you contact the person in-charge of the nearest machine. Their contact details will be made available to the farmer on the app.”
*We are not a party that will run away from taking responsibility. But this is a problem that needs to be solved together: CM Bhagwant Mann*
He added, “At the Gurudwara Sahib that is there in various villages, we have made announcements over there to inform the residents that according to our holy books and according to Guru Nanak Sahib, ‘pavan’ or the ‘wind’ is given the role of our ‘guru’ or ‘guide’; ‘paani’ or ‘water’ plays the role of our father; and ‘dharti’ or the ‘earth’ plays the role of our mother, and we all have to do whatever it takes to keep them healthy. Besides this we have encouraged several panchayats to ensure that these three principles are followed. I have been informed that there have been several instances of different villages coming together and signing a resolution asking the farmers not to burn stubble. In one instance, as many as 124 villages came together and signed such a resolution. So, it is clear that the farmer also does not want to burn stubble. But I agree, if stubble is being burnt anywhere in the state and there is pollution because of it, it is the responsibility of the state government. We are not a party that will run away from taking responsibility. But this is a problem that needs to be solved together.”
*No problem in procurement or lifting of rice crop; but record procurement of rice across states means higher stubble too: CM Bhagwant Mann*
He further said, “But in reality, like Arvind Ji informed you, we had very little time between the switching of the crops. On March 16, we had our swearing-in ceremony and just 15 days after that it was time for the wheat crop. Soon after that we had the rice crop. I can assure you that there are no problems in the procurement and lifting of the rice crop. There has also been no delay in giving farmers their money for the crops. We can say with a lot of pride that this year, taking the data into consideration from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and all the other states, there will be a record procurement when it comes to rice. But we also need to understand that when you have a record procurement of rice, the number of instances of burning of crop waste or stubble will also increase. These two aspects of the crop are intertwined.”
*75 lac acres of land in Punjab harvest rice; stubble management requires a variety of very large scale solutions: CM Bhagwant Mann*
He added, “Although we had very little time to work with, we launched India’s first bio-energy plant in association with a German firm named Verbio Group. This was done at a cost of Rs 230 crore and Union Minister Hardeep Puri was present on the occasion. This one plant has the capacity to take the stubble from 47,000 acres of land. The company will also pay the farmers for the stubble taken from their land and it is responsible for its safe destruction. You also have to note that the rice crop is grown in Punjab in an area of 75 lakh acres. So just one such plant cannot solve our problems, we need multiple such plants and we are working on getting them. Recent technology shows that the stubble can be used to create electricity and even CNG, so we are working on such initiatives.”
*Will explore crop diversification; will ensure stubble is curtailed by next year: CM Bhagwant Mann*
The Punjab CM said, “We can assure you that by November next year, we will be sitting in this same hall and talking to the mediapersons on a different topic from the air pollution in northern India. Punjab is such a blessed state and our soil is so fertile that we can grow almost anything over here. Over the years we will try and encourage crop diversification. The farmers also themselves say that they want to move away from growing paddy as the water levels in their fields have been depleting because of the crop. As the head of the state of Punjab, I assure you that we are currently doing everything in our capacity to curb the issue of air pollution and by next year we will do a lot more work and such an issue shall not arise. Out of 75 lakh acres of land that we have in Punjab, in at least 35 lakh acres, the issue of stubble does not arise. It is only in the remaining 40 lakh acres that this problem persists. We will find ways to stop this crop residue burning in these remaining 40 lakh acres by next year. We will see what incentives we can give to the farmers to diversify their crop and grow other crops such as mustard, millet, sunflower and so on. We are working on such proposals for next year.”
*Filing FIRs against farmers will not solve this problem; farmers feed the whole nation, can’t be labelled criminals for no fault: CM Bhagwant Mann*
He concluded, “But once again, I would like to reiterate that air pollution is a northern India issue and therefore there cannot be a solution to it without the various state governments and the Centre sitting together on the matter. We are still doing everything that is in our hands to ensure that the air in the region gets better. Shri Arvind Kejriwal just mentioned that the AQI levels in most cities in north India are on the higher side and some of these cities are not in Delhi or Punjab. But again, I do not want to indulge in any blame game. All I can say is that as the Chief Minister of Punjab I assure the people that we will do whatever it takes to not have to go through such a problem the following year. Also, I do not believe that filing FIRs against the farmers is going to solve this problem in any way. This cannot be our solution to this problem. The farmer of our nation feeds this large nation and we should not blame the farmer or make them feel as if they are criminals.”