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Chandigarh, (Gurpreet) : Welcoming the latest data on the link between Delhi’s pollution and stubble burning as vindication of his government’s stand on the issue, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday asked Arvind Kejriwal to stop lying to divert attention from his own failure to protect the national capital’s environment.

Hours after Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that stubble burning contributes to only 4% of PM 2.5 pollution in NCR, with the rest caused by local factors, Captain Amarinder slammed his Delhi counterpart for refusing to accept the results of comprehensive studies on the issue.

In fact, it was Kejriwal who was in denial, said Captain Amarinder, reacting to the Delhi chief minister’s remark about ‘being in denial not helping’. If Kejriwal is serious about addressing Delhi’s crisis, he should stop being denial immediately and get down to the task of finding solutions in right earnest, the Chief Minister added.

Kejriwal, said the Chief Minister, had been spreading misinformation on the issue with the sole agenda of keeping Delhiites in the dark about the actual situation, which his government had failed miserably to handle over the years. The fact is that there is absolutely not data to support the claims of the Delhi chief minister, he said, adding that, in contrast, studies showed that stubble burning was only a miniscule part of the national capital’s problem.

Notably, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), in a research paper based on data for 2018 and 2019, has found that Delhi’s pollution is localised and not attributable to the farm fires in Punjab or the NCR. It pointed out that AQI for Punjab is much better than in Delhi. Captain Amarinder pointed out that this is something Punjab has been maintaining for the past several years, with the pollution levels in the state nowhere near as bad as those in Delhi.

The Chief Minister said it was obvious that Kejriwal, who had been blaming Punjab’s farm fires for the horrendously poor AQI levels in the national capital for the past several years, was taking refuge in brazen falsehoods to divert public attention from the AAP government’s total failure to control the environmental situation in Delhi.

“Even today, the skies in Punjab are clear and the AQI levels much better than those in Delhi,” Captain Amarinder noted, adding that even a child can see the difference between the two. But the Delhi chief minister has persistently chosen to conveniently ignore this and blamed Punjab for a mess of his own making, he added.

The Punjab Chief Minister pointed out that there were clear indicators to show that the main causes of Delhi’s pollution were construction, waste demolition, dust etc, all of which push pollutants into the air. In winter, due to the weather conditions, these pollutants stay in the air much longer, which clearly cause the situation to be aggravated, which everyone but Kejriwal can clearly see and realise, he added.

Captain Amarinder said that while his government was doing its best to reduce stubble burning problem in order to cleanse the air completely of every single pollutant, the farmers unfortunately were facing a massive problem in managing paddy straw in the absence of fiscal aid for the purpose. He further said that despite repeated pleas to the central government for cash compensation to farmers on his account, there had been no positive response from GoI so far. He reiterated his demand for Rs 100/quintal as financial support from the Centre to eliminate the stubble burning problem in Punjab.

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