Don’t link firecrackers to religion, let people breathe: Delhi Minister Gopal Rai to opposition


PTI, Nov 3, 2021, 6:06 PM IST

New Delhi: Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday appealed to the opposition parties not to link the bursting of firecrackers to religion and jeopardise the wellbeing of children and the elderly for political ambitions.

He also appealed to the Centre to issue an advisory to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to mandatorily stop stubble burning during the Diwali period.

At a press conference, Rai alleged that some people of opposition parties are trying to sabotage the AAP government’s fight against pollution by linking firecracker bursting to religion.

”Some people want to fulfil their political ambitions… I appeal to them with folded hands not to play with the lives of Delhi’s children and the elderly. There are many other issues for politics. Please let people breathe. Diwali means diyas (lamps) not firecrackers,” he said.

Rai said places of worship were shut across India when coronavirus started ravaging the country. ”It was not a matter of religion but people’s lives,” he said.

”The Arvind Kejriwal government is working to take care of the religious sentiments of people and to save children and the elderly simultaneously,” the minister added.

On October 27, the Delhi government had launched the ‘Patakhe Nahi Diye Jalao’ campaign to create awareness against the bursting of crackers. Action is being taken under relevant IPC provisions and the Explosives Act against anyone found burning crackers under the campaign.

On September 28, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee ordered a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers in the national capital till January 1, 2022.

Rai said Delhi’s air quality a day before Diwali was the best in five years.

”Favourable weather conditions and people’s support to the government’s anti-pollution campaign are reasons for best October air quality in five years,” he said.

”I also urge the Centre to issue a mandatory advisory to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to stop burning stubble at least during the Diwali period so that people can breathe easy after the festival,” the minister said.

The national capital recorded an average air quality index of 173 in October this year, the lowest in the month in five years, he said, adding that October saw an average AQI of 265 in 2020; 234 in 2019; 269 in 2018 and 284 in 2017.

He said more than 13,000 kg of illegal firecrackers have been seized and 33 people arrested under the anti-cracker campaign.

As part of the drive to check dust pollution, a penalty of Rs 1.23 lakh has been imposed on 406 construction sites found violating dust control norms.

Rai said Pusa bio-decomposer, a microbial solution that can convert stubble into manure in 15 to 20 days, has been sprayed over 1,700 acres of agricultural land in Delhi.

”The spraying of the bio-decomposer got delayed due to rains in October. The rest of the fields will be covered by November 20,” he added.

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