While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal attributed the dense, deadly smog covering the capital largely to stubble burning in neighbouring states and suggested discussions with his counterparts in Punjab and Haryana to find alternatives to burning of crop residue, a concerned Pakistan took steps to tackle pollution.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh of the Congress party acknowledged his tweet, shared his concern but said only the central government could help find a solution to the problem as his state did not have the required resources to compensate farmers and deter them from stubble burning. It will monitor the short-term and long-term solutions to air pollution, besides meeting at regular, short intervals to draw up a plan and ensure enforcement. Official sources said the Centre chose to go ahead with GRAP after an urgent meeting was held on Thursday.
The air quality in Delhi continues to be in "severe" condition under a blanket of thick haze, as pollution levels have breached permissible standards by multiple times. Calling it an "emergency situation", a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva asked the government to consider the option of "cloud seeding" to induce rainfall artificially.
"Just my meeting with Delhi chief minister resolves nothing", said Singh, who earlier said Punjab farmers were too poor to use alternate methods to replace stubble burning.
Meanwhile, Punjab CM has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking compensation for farmers to check the risky trend of stubble burning. The Delhi government has directed schools to stay shut till Sunday and brought back the odd-even traffic rationing arrangement to cut the number of cars on the roads. Singh also hit out at Kejriwal, calling him a "peculiar person". There is 20 million tonne of paddy straw. "He doesn't understand this problem", Singh said. Amarinder has also requested Modi to convene a meeting of the chief ministers of the affected states along with the Union ministers for agriculture, food and environment on the issue.