Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda has written to the Prime Minister, seeking setting up of a committee headed by the Prime Minister himself, that includes Chief Ministers from North Indian states as members, with a defined mandate to propose and oversee implementation of long term solutions to fight hazardous levels of air pollution in the National Capital Region and other parts of North India.
He would be bringing in a private members’ bill called ‘Right to Clean Air Bill’ in the winter session of Parliament for which he has sought suggestions from all citizens via social media. The MP said he is willing to act as the postman between the people and the Parliament on the issue so that opinion of every citizen can be incorporated.
Deepender, the only Opposition MP from the 19 Lok Sabha seats falling in NCR, said “We need to rise above political blame-games and find lasting solution to this problem for the sake of our next generation.” All the state governments and the government of India, together, through the sought committee, headed by the Prime Minister with all Chief Ministers, should propose a solid, workable plan with adequate budget allocation.
The Rohtak MP said the approach so far has been of adhocism and passing the buck. Sometimes, we resort to banning firecrackers, sometimes we resort to odd even, sometimes the NGT steps in and on other occasions, the states and political parties start to blame each other. “This needs to stop as this is a shared and joint responsibility that all of us need to collectively need to picth in,” he said and added that the poor farmer should not be made a scapegoat.
“If we can have the Right to Food Act and Right to Education Act, why can’t we have a Right to Clean Air Act,” says Shri Hooda said in a brief interaction with media persons in New Delhi.
We need to start acting now to ensure that we don’t have the same problem next year. “As you would be aware, the problem has reached alarming levels. While a level of 100 is stated to a health hazard the world over, we are living with levels which are seven to eight times this limit. The problem starts around Diwali and exacerbates in the winter months and the people of region have to live with extremely poor air quality. Children are the worst hit and I think you would agree with me when I say that every child has the right to grow up in clean air. Matters have reached a point where every child, elderly persons and people from all age groups have been exposed to levels of smoke that comes from smoking about 50 cigarettes,” Shri Hooda has stated in his letter to the Prime Minister.
He said since other countries had faced similar problems in the past but had managed to get the problem under control, we can defeat air pollution if we come together to fight the problem.
“In 1992, the United Nations had declared Mexico as the most polluted city in the world but they managed to bring down the air pollution after years of work and a series of steps. In 1952, London faced a similar crisis and is known as the ‘Great Smog’ that led to a massive loss in lives in the days that followed. The government brought in the Clean Air Act in 1956 and brought in a series of rules to control the problem,” he said in his letter.
Speaking to media persons, Shri Hooda said we need to mobilize all resources at our command. He pointed out that there have been media reports that parts of the Clean Energy Cess being diverted to meet GST shortfalls and stated that financial resources for protecting the environment should not be diverted.
The Rohtak MP said he did not claim to be a subject matter expert but had taken up the issue as a concerned citizen and wanted to act as a postman between the people and the Parliament. “Lets create platforms that would ensure that every citizen from the NCR, North India and other parts of the country can join the movement and make suggestions. I would ensure that the voice of every concerned citizen is heard in the Parliament,” he said.