Expressing anguish over the growing air pollution in Delhi, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has written an emotional letter to the Prime Minister,Mr. Narendra Modi.
The letter underlined the need for evolving a consensus on tackling the issue, rising above political affiliations and regional considerations.
The Chief Minister said, 'No Indian, and no one in Punjab, is oblivious of the misery of our brethren in the national capital, whatever many around the country might have been led to believe.'
Pointing out that his children and grandchildren living in Delhi were currently sharing the plight of the lakhs of people there, he said the prevailing situation 'has exposed the hollowness of our claims of being a progressive and developed nation'.
'How can a country be called developed when its capital city has been reduced to a gas chamber, not by any natural disaster but by a series of man-made ones?' he asked.
Making it clear that he had no intention of washing his hands of Punjab’s responsibility, he said, however, that the entire country, including Delhi and the Centre, had allowed 'this state of affairs to emerge and sustain'.
Admitting that stubble fires, supported by the winds blowing in the wrong direction, were contributing to the toxic levels in Delhi, the Chief Minister noted that data from several independent agencies had pointed out that large-scale industrial pollution, traffic overload and the excessive construction activity taking place in Delhi were equally, if not more, to blame.
Captain Amarinder Singh said he took no solace from this data, nor could this blame-game help any of them to 'assuage our own guilt in a matter of such serious national consequence'.
'The harsh truth is that while all of us are busy conveniently passing the buck, Delhi’s people are reeling under excruciating misery,' he said.
He said Punjab had tried to enforce law against stubble-burning to the maximum extent possible, and was even penalising the farmers. He wrote that he had expected the Centre 'to have taken the matter in its hands long back, to find a holistic solution to the grave problem'. That, unfortunately, had not happened, despite even the Supreme Court expressing concern on the rapidly deteriorating situation.