No matter how disconcerting the pollution in Delhi is, Members of Parliament are concerned more about the ‘plight’ of farmers of Haryana and Punjab rather than the health of people their callous conduct is affecting, or so it seemed in the debate on the issue. MPs say that farmers are being “humiliated” for burning stubble.
The MPs have demanded financial assistance from the government to prevent farmers from burning stubble while subsidies for stubble disposal machines are being given to the farmers of the two States already.
The Supreme Court reprimanded the governments of Punjab and Haryana recently for mishandling of the stubble-burning issue.
MPs from Punjab say that the State does not have the incentive to stop farmers from burning stubble. A lot of social media campaigns are going on about pollution and the problems caused by people in Delhi-NCR is now common knowledge.
Some Members say that the government should also take measures like China to reduce pollution. China had taken drastic measures to reduce pollution in the capital Beijing.
How serious the political class is about the issue was, however, evident from the pathetic attendance of MPs when the House discussed the matter. Even some MPs from Delhi were not present in the House. Facing flak recently for his absence in the parliamentary committee deliberating upon the issue of pollution in Delhi-NCR, Gautam Gambhir was present at the meeting of the parliamentary panel on pollution issues in the last few days.
Some BJP MPs blamed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the pollution in Delhi. BJP’s Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma alleged that the current situation was a result of poor transport and industrial policy. He took a leaf out of social media jokes saying, “There was a time when Kejriwal alone coughed; now all of Delhi is coughing,” referring to the throat infection Kejriwal was associated with during his formative years as a politician.
During the debate, Congress MP Manish Tewari said that the emission from vehicles was the largest contributor to pollution. He claimed 41% of the pollutants came from vehicular emissions. Burning of straw is one of several reasons, he said.
Tewari’s claim, however, flew in the face of the Harvard University study that showed that the burning of stubble in Haryana and Punjab doubled the quantum of pollutants in Delhi-NCR.
Tewari said that the incidents of stubble burning in Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh were serious, but the “plight of farmers” also could not be ignored. He said it was really unfortunate that Delhi got completely polluted these days and people had to breathe in the toxic air. He said, “This is serious. Why do people have to approach the Supreme Court every year on this matter?”
BJD MP Pinaki Misra said that the straw could be used in many other industries, doing which would reduce pollution. He said that the government should seriously consider this.