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Rai asks Centre to clarify stand of stubble burning

 
New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has asked the Centre to clarify its stand on stubble burning, claiming that two different figures mentioned in the affidavit presented by the latter to the Supreme Court on Monday have created confusion among the masses.

"There was a debate among experts, mediapersons and people throughout the day about the contribution of stubble to the level of pollution inside Delhi. I would like to request the Union Environment Minister to clarify the situation. In a single affidavit, the Central government has submitted in the Supreme Court two contrasting statements. One says that stubble burning contributes 4 per cent to the air pollution in Delhi-NCR. In the same affidavit, the other statement indicates that a meeting was held a day earlier, in which it was said that the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi's pollution is 35 to 40 per cent.

"Both statements cannot be true. Either 4 is the correct statistic or 40 is. Therefore, I request the Union Environment Minister that the facts and statements in that report need to be clarified publicly. Because, if we are to strategise considering the contribution of stubble burning at 4 per cent, the result would be different from what they would have been if we consider the contribution to be 40 per cent. Therefore, a clarification on this is necessary before the Supreme Court and the people, so that we can prepare the right strategy," Rai said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"I looked into this and found that SAFAR, a Central government organisation, was responsible for publishing the data and estimate from November 4 to November 14. Diwali was on November 4 and SAFAR's assessment says that on November 4, the contribution of stubble was 25 per cent, 36 per cent on November 5, 41 per cent on November 6, 48 per cent on November 7, 30 per cent on November 8, 27 per cent on November 9 and 10, 26 per cent on November 11, 35 per cent on November 12, and 31 per cent on November 13 and 14. If we were to consider the average of the data from November 4 to November 14, it is around 31 per cent. This data is also from the Central government, and the data which has been handed over inside the court is also from the Central government.

"My request to the Union Environment Minister would be that this situation be clarified at the earliest so that we can devise the right strategy regarding pollution. This clarification is also very important because there has been a lot of confusion regarding this since Monday," he added.

Speaking on the status of the meeting conducted by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) over the deteriorating air quality in the national capital and the measures needed to tackle it, Rai said, "Yesterday, the Supreme Court had instructed the Commission for Air Quality Management to hold a joint meeting regarding the pollution levels in Delhi. In that regard, the officials from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi held a meeting on Tuesday. In this meeting, on behalf of the people of Delhi, we proposed that work-from-home be implemented, and all construction work and industries in Delhi-NCR be shut for the meantime. We will proceed further after receiving the Commission's decision. We hope that this meeting will result in a joint action plan for reducing pollution levels."

"To control vehicular pollution inside Delhi, we had decided to run the 'Red Light On Gaadi Off' campaign from October 18 to November 18. But in view of the prevailing pollution situation, the government has now decided that the second phase of this campaign will run from November 19 to December 3. Similar to the previous phase, 2,500 civil defence volunteers will continue to work to create awareness among the people at about 100 intersections," Rai added.

--IANS
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