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Blame-game on Delhi air

Blame-game on Delhi air

As the debate on poor air quality in Delhi-NCR and its detrimental effects on the residents fast turn into a political blame game, the mountainous terrains of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand witnessed heavy snowfall and rains on Saturday, bringing down temperature and pollution level in the entire northern region. But the much-needed respite from the extreme level of air pollution in Delhi-NCR is likely to last only for a day before it returns to the previous level of high toxicity. In the ongoing debate on what contributes to the poor air quality in the national capital and its surrounding areas, Delhi Chief Minister had earlier said that while Haryana government has taken initiatives to curb stubble burning by its farmers, the Punjab government has not made much progress on this count. NASA pictures show that stubble burning in Punjab has in fact gone up, he said. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh drew attention to other factors such as vehicular and industrial pollution, construction activities, burning of waste at landfill sites. He asked why the air quality remains as poor in the months of January and February when there is no stubble burning in any neighbouring states. He also hit out at the Delhi CM saying that instead of accepting his failure to do anything worthwhile to contain air pollution, Kejriwal is passing the buck. Capt Singh warned the Delhi CM that his consistent moves to blame the farmers of Punjab for the poor air quality in Delhi amounts to insult of the farmers in the state and they will tell him what they think about Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the upcoming Lok Sabah election. AAP with 22 MLAs is the main opposition party in the 117-member Punjab Assembly, where Congress with 77 members is in power. However, In his rebuttal to Kejriwal's allegations, Capt Singh mentioned a noteworthy point that the high level of pollution in Delhi is also due to high concentration of population in a limited area where people end up inadvertently contributing to the rising level of pollution.

A number of scientific studies by leading organisations working on ecology and environment have pointed out that the reason Delhi witnesses a thick layer of smog and haze in the initial months of winter is due to the largescale stubble burning in the neighbouring states where farmers resort to farm-fire in their bid to clear the fields of the residues from the previous crop. Capt Singh had even met Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently and asked for a package to provide the farmers with adequate compensation so that they have enough incentives to forgo burning stubble. However, the tug of war between Capt Singh and Kejriwal on the issue takes the debate on the poor air quality in Delhi in a different direction where both the leaders are blaming one another and neither is ready to accept responsibility. As they continue the blame game, the residents of Delhi are reeling from extreme levels of pollution leading to serious health complications.

Meanwhile, the snowfall and rain in some parts of J&K, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand have brought cheer to nature lovers even though the season's first snowfall in these states will not last long because of the prevailing metrological phenomenon and a spate of dry weather is expected to follow soon. The snowfall and plummeting temperature mark the beginning of a long winter in the higher reaches of the mountains and it is the time that tourists, both foreign and domestic, wait for eagerly. The beauty of the mountains and the life there take a curious turn when winter sets in. Unlike in the mainland where the winter is accompanied by overcast skies and the sun is late and feeble in the day, the mountains have bright sunny days with sun descending early and glowing warm without being affected by the clouds, which are either non-existent or come and go briskly. The clear sky, the rarified air, the scent of deodars give a high that is beyond words. And, the life and the culture that thrive in that environment is no less mesmerising whether it is about foods, clothes or customs. The nights are chilly, a cosy bed is the only answer. Looking at the night sky where the blinking stars and the moon look so ever close and straight from a fairy tale is another experience that is hard to forget. The foreign tourists who would come to India to experience such beautiful life and nature's bounty, however, will have to cross Delhi, where the sky is overcast with smog and dust and there is no trace of what awaits them in the Indian Shangri-la hidden away in the mountains.

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