Friday, 16 November 2012

'No Haryana role in Delhi smog'

'No Haryana role in Delhi smog'

GURGAON: The Delhi-Haryana rivalry is never more clearly on show than when the issue being addressed has anything to do with pollution. Not long ago, water pollution in the Yamuna river was the bone of contention, with the two states blaming each other for having caused it. And now, after the Delhi chief minister, Shiela Dikshit, held the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh - and their farm fires - responsible for the capital's daily thickening smog cover, the blame-game has begun anew. 

Officials of the 
Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) have said that Delhi is blaming other states for a mess that is its own creation. "They can't blame other states for it. Delhi's pollution levels are high because municipal solid waste is burned openly there. Besides, air pollution caused by the huge number of cars and other vehicles in the capital is on the rise. That's why, this season, the smog cover is so thick there," said Balraj Ahlawat, district pollution officer, HSPCB, Gurgaon. 

Ahlawat said that an official report - making the same points and blaming the smog blanket on, among other things, high humidity levels - has also been prepared by the pollution department. "We have a meeting on Saturday with the 
Central Pollution Control Board officials in Delhi, and this report will be submitted there," he said. Officials from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are also expected to be present at Saturday's meeting. 

The 'farm fires' that the 
Delhi government has referred to, were indeed prevalent in Haryana's rural parts, and still are a major cause for concern. Around Diwali time, farmers here carry out mass burnings of their paddy straw, causing heavy smoke emanating harmful pollutants. Even though the practice was banned in 2003, the pollution board still finds dousing these farm fires something of a challenge. 

"The pollution board is running awareness campaigns in 119 blocks across the state, where farmers are told about the harmful effect burning stalks has on the environment," said an HSPCB spokesperson. To encourage better popular participation in this drive against farm fires, the board has also announced cash prizes for the agricultural blocks that stay off this ritual this year. "Prizes of up to Rs 50,000 are being offered to the blocks where the mass burning of paddy straw is not taking place," the spokesperson added

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