Oppn, govt debate on notes ban heats up Day 1 of winter session City breathes ‘very poor’ air first time after Diwali AIR QUALITY REPORT
WAR OF WORDS PM Modi tries to reach out after MPs unite in Parliament to condemn government
The opposition parties attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday for unleashing an “economic anarchy” by recalling high-value banknotes but the government defended the clampdown as a move to cleanse the country of illicit currency.
They also demanded a probe into the demonetisation move saying the government had leaked the information to “BJP’s friends” in advance.
The scrapping of the old of `500 and `1,000 banknotes on November 8 has forced people to spend hours in queues outside banks and ATMs to exchange old notes and withdraw new ones, triggering a political blame game. The ruling dispensation justifies the move as surgical strike against black money, terror-funding, and counterfeit currency.
The Prime Minister walked over to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Trinamool Congress MPs and other opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday morning. Soon after, the opposition parties launched a diatribe against the government during a debate on the issue in the Rajya Sabha.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned after obituary references and is likely to debate the demonetisation on Thursday when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is also expected to speak on the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee marches with leaders from other parties to Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday.
Information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu likened demonetisation to the government’s ‘Swachch Bharat’ programme.
“Swachh tan se, man se, dhan se (purity of body, mind and wealth)…that is what the governmemt is aiming for,” Naidu said in the Rajya Sabha.
Initiating the debate, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma attacked the Prime Minister, asking from where he got Rs23,00024,000 crore — estimated by the International Money Watch Group — for his Lok Sabha election campaign in 2014.
The city woke up to high pollution levels on Wednesday as the pollutant-measuring indicator hovered around the ‘very poor’ category, for the first time since the day after Diwali.
The city recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 304, which is expected to increase to 305 on Thursday, according to System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). However, AQI levels dropped to 302 in the evening, which was still in the ‘very poor’ category.
An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered poor and between 301 and 400 is ‘very poor’, which means people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
Researchers attributed the rise in pollution to a drop in overnight wind speed. “The city saw hardly any wind between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, which has allowed pollutants to settle close to the surface, forming a thin layer of smog,” said Neha S Parkhi, senior programme manager, SAFAR. “We expect this to continue until the wind speed picks up.”
305 302 261 291