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Crop residue burning: Congress, Akali protests in Chandigarh as Kejriwal lands to discuss smog | India News

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NEW DELHI: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal was greeted by protesting Congress and Akali Dal workers when he arrived at Chandigarh airport today en route to a meeting with Haryana’s BJP CM to discuss crop residue burning.

Haryana’s neighbouring Congress government in Punjab is fighting with Kejriwal on the issue of crop residue burning which is leading to hazardous smog in many parts of northern India. Amarinder refused to meet Kejriwal on his Chandigarh trip despite the former’s request.

Ergo Congress workers, joined by Akali Dal workers, today gathered to protest what they believe is unfair targeting by Kejriwal of Punjab’s role in the pollution.

Punjab’s CM Amarinder Singh has consistently said that the state’s farmers cannot afford to dispose of crop residue any other way than by burning.

To be sure, pollution levels in Delhi-NCR are up not just to due to burning of crop residue by Haryana and Punjab. Dust due to large-scale construction, vehicle emissions and polluting industries are also responsible. A drop in temperatures combined with a rise in crop residue burning has exacerbated the situation.

“The sheer cost involved in so managing the huge amount of paddy straw left behind every season is mind-boggling and simply out of the reach of the farmers. And, unfortunately, the state government also lacks the funds needed to take on such an onerous task,” wrote Singh in an article exclusively for TOI.

Kejriwal’s contention is “let’s at least talk”; he can’t understand why Amarinder isn’t even willing to discuss the issue that has become a huge health hazard for not just Delhi-NCR residents but also for residents of Haryana and Punjab.

Haryana’s BJP government responded – albeit belatedly and likely to show up Amarinder – to Kejriwal’s entreaties for discussions.

A meeting is currently underway between Haryana CM ML Khattar and Delhi’s Kejriwal.

Kejriwal said a day before the trip that he looked forward to a “fruitful” discussion.

It’s unclear whether anything concrete will emerge from the discussion. After all, Khattar’s party colleague and Union minister for environment said things could be much worse in Delhi.

The environment minister contrasted – favourably – the pollution choking large swathes of northern India with the 1984 gas leak in Bhopal that killed at least 25,000 people, reported AFP.

Updated: November 15, 2017 — 12:34 pm

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