It does not take 4 years to check air pollution, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. (File)

New Delhi:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said crop residue can be “converted from a liability into an opportunity” within a year, provided there is political will and sharp timelines to move away from stubble burning.

Mr Kejriwal backed Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar’s statement that air pollution is not the problem of one state alone, and appealed to him to hold monthly review meetings with chief ministers and experts from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab till a complete solution emerges. 

It does not take 4 years to check air pollution, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal said countering the claim made by Mr Javadekar, whom he has taken head-on over stubble burning’s contribution to air pollution across north India. 

“It just takes political will. If all parties set aside their differences to work together honestly, I believe we can address this in a lot less than 4 years,” said Mr Kejriwal, who has earlier accused the central government of only looking for piece-meal solutions to Delhi’s annual air pollution problem.

He spoke specifically about the pollution caused by stubble burning during this time of the year – a point of contention between the centre, Delhi and the governments of its neighbouring states.

“Imagine what the farmers go through while burning stubble… Our scientists have given us solutions that help process stubble efficiently. Delhi government is walking the path showed by PUSA Institute. We have sprinkled a chemical that turns stubble into manure. Delhi’s farmers don’t need to burn stubble anymore,” Mr Kejriwal said about a solution it had recently suggested the Central government adopt and promote in other states.

The Central government offers subsidy to states so farmers can hire machines for removing paddy stubble – something farmers say throws up logistical challenges making it unfeasible.

He further listed how many farmers and enterprises in Punjab and Haryana are earning by processing crop residue.

“There is huge scope for employment in factories that convert stubble into other things… In Karnal, CNG (compressed natural gas) is being made from paddy stubble; in Punjab, there are 7 factories that make coal from it. Now people are also making cardboard. These factories remove the stubble for farmers, pay farmers for it and make products which create employment and are bought by the likes of Delhi Indraprastha Gas Limited and NTPC. Everyone benefits,” Mr Kejriwal said.

“Do we have the political will for it? Or will we continue to do politics on the issue?” the Delhi Chief Minister asked, saying that all states must discuss solutions instead of trading charges.

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