Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has accused Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar of postponing three meetings with state environment ministers, saying on Saturday that either he has no time or does not consider treating the national capital's poor air quality a priority.
Sisodia's remarks came on a day Javadekar alleged that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, by asking school students to write letters to his Punjab and Haryana counterparts over pollution caused due to stubble burning, was "politicising" the issue and presenting them as "villains".
The first meeting was cancelled on September 12, the second one on October 17 and the third on October 19, the deputy chief minister claimed, but did not clarify meetings with which state environment ministers were cancelled.
"I want to ask the Centre for how long will the people of Delhi breathe this poisonous air. Either he has no time or does not consider treating the national capital's poor air quality a priority," Sisodia told reporters.
He also said that farmers in neighbouring states do not have any means of getting rid of crop stubble, and that is the reason why they are forced to burn it.
"The Centre has made 63,000 machines (to stop stubble burning) available in two years. How will it help 26 lakhs farmers? With this speed, is it a programme for 50-60 years? If it is so, what should the people of Delhi-NCR do for next 50-60 years?" the deputy chief minister asked.
He further claimed that the cost of operating the machines was so high that even those farmers who have it prefer stubble burning.
Delhi has been battling alarming levels of pollution since Diwali with the city recording the worst air quality of the season on Friday.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), about 46 per cent of pollution in Delhi on Friday was caused due to stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.
This led Delhi-NCR's air quality to touch 'severe plus' category, prompting authorities to shut schools till November 5, ban all construction activities and declare a "public health emergency".