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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com Badri Chat­ter­jee badri.chat­ter­jee@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.”


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