Extending an hand: Arvind Kejriwal.

Extending an hand: Arvind Kejriwal.

Haryana CM plays hooky with Kejriwal on smog; comes to Delhi, can’t find CM

Hide and seek; both CMs looking for each other, not finding

Agency Report | New Delhi/Chandigarh | 13 November, 2017 | 11:50 PM

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday landed in Delhi and wanted to know where was the meeting with Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal to discuss the smog situation and stubble burning. Kejriwal said his office was desperately trying to reach him and later tweeted that Khattar said he is busy and will meet him in Chandigarh on Wednesday.

Earlier, Khattar shared on his Twitter handle a letter he had written to Kejriwal on November 10 in which he had expressed his willingness to meet the Delhi Chief Minister, and also blamed Kejriwal for his “inability to rise above short-term electoral interests”.

Kejriwal has blamed stubble burning by farmers in Punjab and Haryana for causing the thick smog over Delhi. On November 8, he had written to the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab for a joint meeting to find a solution to the problem that has led to widespread health concerns.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh declined the proposal for a meeting saying the air pollution in NCR was not an inter-state matter and needed the Centre’s intervention, but Khattar said he was willing to meet the Delhi Chief Minister.

Khattar in his letter said he would be available in Delhi on Monday and until Tuesday noon.

“I am indeed open to meeting you anytime anywhere to solve the problem of dangerously bad air in NCR,” Khattar wrote back.

After arriving in Delhi, Khattar told reporters: “I am in Delhi, where is the meeting.”

To which Kejriwal tweeted, saying his office has been trying to contact him for a long time.

He later tweeted: “Khattarji called. He is in Delhi until tomorrow. Says he is very busy and can’t meet me in Delhi. He has asked me to come to Chandigarh on Wednesday. I look forward to meeting him in Chandigarh on Wednesday.”

Khattar in his letter also said a constructive mindset was required to deal with the issue of stubble burning by farmers and everyone had a role to play in this regard. “I believe that no single person, organisation, or government can improve the quality of air. Such collective action problems require everyone to do their bit….Unfortunately, your letter contains no hint of such a mindset,” Khattar wrote in his reply to Kejriwal’s invitation for talks.

The Haryana Chief Minister also took a dig at his Punjab counterpart for not spending “even a paisa out of its central allocation of Rs 97.58 crore” and said that Haryana has spent Rs 39 crore of the allocation of Rs 45 crore released for crop residue management.
Khattar accepted Kejriwal’s appeal for a meeting to discuss the issue of stubble burning, while also slamming him for “inability to rise above short-term electoral gains” on the issue.

In a letter to Kejriwal, released to media on Monday, Khattar said that a constructive mindset was required to deal with the issue of stubble burning by farmers and everyone had a role to play in this regard.

Khattar had written back to Kejriwal on November 10, in response to a letter from the latter on November 8.

“Unfortunately, your letter contains no hint of such a mindset. In fact, your reference to the helplessness of farmers in Punjab and Haryana in stubble burning betrays an inability to rise above short term electoral interests. Your assertion that the governments (Punjab and Haryana) have failed to provide them economically viable solution gives away your subconscious awareness of your government’s inaction in this regard,” Khattar said.

He pointed out that the Delhi government had failed to take any steps with regard to stubble burning being stopped in Delhi’s territory where 40,000 families cultivate their land.

Khattar pointed out, quoting the Union Agriculture Minister, that Haryana had used Rs 39 crore out of the Rs 45 crore sanctioned by the Centre for crop residue management.

He said that satellite imagery data clearly showed a substantial reduction in the number of stubble burning cases in Haryana from 2014 onwards.

The Delhi government is blaming stubble burning by farmers in Punjab and Haryana for the smog and air pollution in the national capital and surrounding areas which have led to environment and health concerns for people. (IANS)