Denmark meet not for CMs: Centre BJP govt scared of our work, says AAP
Javadekar, MEA Give Reasons For Not Clearing Climate Summit Trip of CM
New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday said it had denied political clearance to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for travelling to Denmark because the global meet was for mayors and not chief ministers. Addressing reporters after a cabinet meeting, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, “This is a mayor-level conference and a Bengal minister is going to participate in it.” The minister is also the mayor of Kolkata. Javadekar added that there was a separate protocol when political functionaries like CMs were invited.
Kejriwal was to travel with an eight-member delegation for a climate summit in Copenhagen. While the government can deny that it was targeting opposition leaders, denial of clearance to Kejriwal has attracted flak with accusations of being meanminded about sending rival leaders to global conferences on issues that are supposedly close to this government’s heart.
When questioned, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “A considered decision on political clearance by the ministry of external affairs is based on multiple inputs and takes into account the nature of the event, the level of participation by other countries, type of invitation extended etc. In the instant case, the participation of chief minister of Delhi as a speaker at a panel discussion was not commensurate with the level of participation from other countries. The chief minister of one of the largest and populous cities in the world, which also is the capital of India, was therefore advised not to attend the event.”
This is contrary to AAP’s claim that the ministry kept it in the dark until the last minute when Kejriwal was asked not to travel to Copenhagen.
The C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, its promotional literature says, “will build a global coalition of leading cities, businesses and citizens that rallies around the radical and ambitious climate action our planet needs”.
While it is an unrelated issue, high-level political interactions with Denmark are frowned upon by Indian government because of the unresolved issue of Kim Davy, an accused in the Purulia arms drop case. Denmark has refused to hand over Davy, who piloted the aircraft from which the cache was dumped in West Bengal.
The two countries have been making attempts to get beyond this problem and PM Narendra Modi has met the Danish PM and foreign minister in the past few years. New Delhi: Slamming the Centre for refusing permission to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to attend the climate summit in Denmark, Aam Aadmi Party said on Wednesday that the Narendra Modi government was “scared” of the work done by Delhi government and did not want it to be presented to the world. Rebutting Union minister’s Prakash Javadekar’s claim that the summit was a “mayoral level” event, AAP said it was a “lame excuse” and that former chief minister Sheila Dikshit had also attended it in 2007.
The party alleged there was a pattern in denying permission to Kejriwal’s ministers for such conferences and summits abroad and other clearances too had been withheld to prevent them from talking about Delhi government’s achievements on international platforms. Delhi government sources said MEA had communicated to them that the request was examined but denied “clearance from political angle”.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP and Delhi Vidhan Sabha election in-charge Sanjay Singh said they would raise the issue in the upcoming assembly elections in the capital. He said Kejriwal was going to the summit to discuss how Delhi had managed to bring down the air pollution levels by 25% through various steps and by refusing him clearance, the Centre had “disrespected” the people of the city.
He said the Centre had earlier denied permissions to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and health minister Satyendar Jain. “Why is BJP scared of the work done by the Kejriwal government? Delhi government has done a remarkable job by improving the quality of education and health and every government school has good infrastructure and sports facilities. The Centre does not want us to tell the world about these achievements,” he added.
AAP national spokesperson Raghav Chadha said, “Mr Javadekar did not check his facts before speaking. He is clearly unaware of the administrative structure of major cities and city states...Multilateral summits like C40 choose their invitees carefully. Is Mr Javadekar trying to say that he knows more than the organisers of this summit, which is being attended by nearly 100 major cities, on who should have been invited?”
There are cities in which mayors have more powers than the elected CM of Delhi though their roles are more or less similar, he added.
New Delhi: On Dussehra, hundreds of Ravana effigies went up in flames in different parts of the capital. By midnight, pollution spiked owing to both the low temperature and a mix of toxic fumes. Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index (AQI) on Dussehra at 4pm was112 (moderate), but 24 hours later CPCB’s daily air quality bulletin read 173 (moderate), which was a considerable spike.
However, this was the cleanest post-Dussehra day Delhi has recorded since 2015. On October 9, 2018, the air quality was in the “poor” category with AQI touching 251. Experts attribute the improvement this year to a mix of factors, including favourable meteorological conditions, better preparedness and a switch to green crackers and “digital” effigy burning, among others.
“The pollution level spiked like every year post effigy burning. However, this year air quality was better than last year. Meteorological conditions played a big part because of a delayed monsoon. The efforts made by people also needs to be acknowledged. Execution of measures under GRAP and coordination among agencies began much earlier, which helped too,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy) at Centre for Science and Environment.
VK Shukla, head of CPCB’s air quality lab, said while northwesterly winds blowing in the region will negatively impact Delhi, the effect of the moisture-laden easterly winds and a prolonged monsoon has helped maintain good air quality levels.
“AQI has largely remained in the satisfactory to moderate range. That’s why it has stayed in the moderate range despite emissions from effigy burning. Action on the ground from September and people’s participation in reducing crackers has certainly helped,” said Shukla, adding that 46 teams had been deployed by CPCB on Monday to keep a tab on pollution violations.
A host of eco-friendly alternatives were seen in the city’s Ramlilas this year. From employing audio systems mimicking the sound of crackers to simply burning the effigy or using green crackers, most celebrations were aimed at being relatively green.
The Supreme Court-mandated EPCA in a letter through its chairman Bhure Lal on Wednesday warned of deterioration in Delhi’s air quality from October 12 onwards with a forecast of adverse weather conditions. “EPCA has been advised by the taskforce on GRAPthat beginning October 12 adverse weather conditions are projected, which exacerbate the potential for pollution,” said Lal.
Currently, Delhi is seeing easterly winds. However, IMD said this will quickly switch to northwesterly with slow wind speeds unlikely to bring about much change in air quality. “We are likely to see similar air quality in the next few days,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD.