Kiran Bedi asked the Delhi government for their plan to tackle the air pollution.
This month, North India witnessed a huge air pollution crisis as many cities including Delhi were swathed in a blanket of toxic smog. Yet life and the political blame-game seemed to continue as usual. Air quality levels went from severe to very poor, schools were shut in Delhi and NCR after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed life in capital as living in a "gas chamber". The worse the things got, more the politics around it remained the same.
As Mr Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Captain Amarinder Singh bickered on tackling the issue, the question was asked: Is it time for the PM to intervene? An emotional Dr Kiran Bedi, Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry and former Delhi Police Commissioner, said on The NDTV Dialogues, "Why should everything rest with the PM? Every place has its own public officials, every place has its own leadership, every district has a collector, every municipal has a municipal commissioner, every department has its own ministry, everybody is a polluter. I want to know what the plan is."
Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashish Khetan said, "We need a vision, policy framework and nationwide strategy from central government. In recent weeks, the Delhi government sought the intervention of the Centre as well as the assistance of neighbouring states in bringing air pollution in Delhi under control. When PM said about Swachh Bharat the whole country was mesmerized by his slogan because Swachh Bharat, Clean India was a vision that he articulated and what could be the most integral part of Swachh Bharat campaign than cleaning up our air," Mr Khetan said.
The Mexican Ambassador to India, Melba Pria made headlines when she travelled to work in an auto-rickshaw because it was less polluting. How hard has it been for foreign diplomats posted in Delhi? "Delhi has always been a hardship posting but now it's actually also 'healthship' problem,' "Ambassador Pria said.
Also on the show, Lok Sabha MP from Congress Deepender Hooda who has proposed a private members bill, Right to Clean Air, admitted his concerns for his one-year-old son. "When AIIMS doctors say your 1-year old is inhaling air pollution that equals 50 cigarettes a day, even if its five cigarettes a day, I don't want my son to be inhaling all that," he said.
Asked to respond to fellow doctor and Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan's recent remark where he said, "it isn't as bad as Bhopal gas tragedy", Dr Lalit Dandona Professor at the Public Health Foundation of India said "The data on the exposure is very sound. We must remember the exposure to air pollution & smoking is quite consistent in its consequences on the human body." Dr Dandona who has come out with a comprehensive report on the effects of pollution on Life in India said, "It may vary a little bit between here and Europe or America or Africa but it will be a plus minus of modest difference. We might argue about the exact extrapolation of the findings of air pollution with the diseases but I think the message cannot be argued against".
The rising levels of toxic smog in Delhi have led authorities to declare a public health emergency. The air pollution level came down after rains lashed the city on Friday, but only marginally.The NDTV Dialogues airs on Sunday at 9:30 PM on NDTV 24x7.