"We Take Responsibility For Punjab Farm Fires": Arvind Kejriwal On Air Crisis

The Aam Admi Party Convenor reiterated that the central government has to come up with a joint action plan to tackle air pollution and it's not a time to point fingers.

"The Kejriwal government is not solely responsible for the worsening air quality," he said.

New Delhi:

Air pollution is an all-India crisis, with many parts of North India recording severe air pollution, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today as air quality in Delhi continued to remain in the 'severe' category for the second consecutive day. 

"We take full responsibility for increasing farm fires in Punjab," he said, adding that it has been just six months since they formed a government in Punjab. "We have taken steps to control it. Stubble burning will come down by next year," he said.

The Aam Admi Party Convenor reiterated that the central government has to come up with a joint action plan to tackle air pollution and it's not a time to point fingers.

"The Kejriwal government is not solely responsible for the worsening air quality," he said at a press conference today with party colleague and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann by his side.

Mr Kejriwal also tweeted a list of Air Quality Index in some north Indian cities where several in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and one in Rajasthan also have "severe" air pollution.

Mr Mann said that stubble burning is increasing because farm produce is also at record highs. The Punjab Chief Minister added that his government is looking at diversifying from paddy next year as long as farmers get Minimum Support Prices, and suggested alternatives like bajra, poplars, and vegetables.

Mr Kejriwal also announced that schools in the national capital will be closed for primary classes from tomorrow, adding that the "odd-even" policy was being considered and would be implemented if necessary. Outdoor sports activities for students from class 5 onwards will also be closed.

"In Punjab, we got only 6 months. The first few months went into implementing law and order. Please give us one more year to solve this," said.

Stubble burning's contribution to Delhi's pollution is 34%, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences agency SAFAR. It's an increase from the 7% share this time last year.

Punjab has reported an increase of over 20% in stubble-burning cases, while Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have reported a fall of around 30%, according to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. The Punjab government blames the Centre for not contributing to bringing down stubble burning. 

People of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday woke up with complaints of choking and 'eye burning' due to smog and air pollution leaving people gasping for breath.

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