Ke­jri­wal’s hol­i­day draws de­ri­sion

Khaleej Times - - FRONT PAGE -

new delhi — As pol­lu­tion in In­dia’s cap­i­tal hit “se­vere” on the air qual­ity scale on Satur­day, the New Delhi chief min­is­ter came un­der fire fol­low­ing re­ports he had left the city for an over­seas fam­ily trip.

For a sec­ond year, the Chief Min­is­ter Arvind Ke­jri­wal, has likened Delhi to a “gas cham­ber” be­cause of the pol­lu­tion.

Sea­sonal burn­ing of crop stub­ble and smoke from fire­works let off to cel­e­brate the Hindu fes­ti­val of Di­wali on Novem­ber 7 have ag­gra­vated al­ready high smog lev­els in the past few days from ve­hi­cle emis­sions, in­dus­trial gases and con­struc­tion work.

Lo­cal tele­vi­sion news chan­nels said Ke­jri­wal had left the coun­try on a pri­vate fam­ily trip to Dubai, trig­ger­ing a back­lash on so­cial me­dia and finger point­ing on Twit­ter by the Delhi arm of In­dia’s gov­ern­ing Bharatiya Janata Party, the party of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

“Arvind Ke­jri­wal cares about his fam­ily so much that he ur­gently booked tick­ets and ran away to Dubai with them as soon as Delhi started chok­ing with pol­lu­tion,” said one Twit­ter user.

A mem­ber of Ke­jri­wal’s party, the Aam Aadmi (Com­mon Man) Party (AAP), said that the chief min­is­ter was not in the city. He de­clined to elab­o­rate or be iden­ti­fied be­cause he is not au­tho­rised to speak to the me­dia.

A city govern­ment spokesman did not re­spond to tele­phone calls seek­ing com­ment. Nei­ther the gov­ern­ing party at fed­eral level nor the main op­po­si­tion are in power in the cap­i­tal, giv­ing them lit­tle in­cen­tive to co-op­er­ate with city au­thor­i­ties.

En­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists say res­i­dents need to be more vo­cal about hold­ing po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to ac­count over the pol­lu­tion.

“Pub­lic pres­sure has to be much sharper and de­mand com­pli­ance. Di­rec­tions, poli­cies have been is­sued but strin­gent im­ple­men­ta­tion is needed,” said An­u­mita Roy­chowd­hury, an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment, a think-tank.

Still, there is lit­tle sign in Delhi that res­i­dents are do­ing much to pro­tect them­selves from the smog. Ac­tivists say the ap­par­ent lack of con­cern about the pol­lu­tion gives fed­eral and lo­cal politi­cians the cover they need for fail­ing to ad­e­quately ad­dress the prob­lem. —

Arvind Ke­jri­wal cares about his fam­ily so much that he ur­gently booked tick­ets and ran away to Dubai with them as soon as Delhi started chok­ing with pol­lu­tion

PTI

Amid smog due to paddy stub­ble burn­ing en­gulf­ing the re­gion, a Pun­jab po­lice head con­sta­ble dis­trib­utes masks to peo­ple to pro­tect them from toxic air at Bathinda on Satur­day. —

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