Amid rising levels of toxic air in the National Capital, Ministers from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan did not attend an important meeting with Union Environment Ministry held in Delhi on Thursday although minsiters' officials attended it.
Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had called a meeting of Ministers and officials from Delhi's neighbouring states to study stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana in particular as well as the overall air quality.
Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain, who attended the meeting, said the meeting should have been taken seriously.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too questioned the absence of the Ministers from other states. Earlier in the day, Kejriwal had said stubble burning in Punjab was the sole reason behind the rising pollution levels in the national capital as he slammed the Centre for failing to provide straw management machinery to the farmers.
"Let there be no politics on this matter. We have talked to the Ministers from Punjab and Haryana and they sent their representatives here," Harsh Vardhan told the media here.
He said the stubble burning had reduced by 30 per cent since last year and that the Centre had already released funds to help the farmers.
But the 30 per cent drop was not enough, Harsh Vardhan said.
Delhi and neighbouring areas saw a spike in air pollution due to stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana was contributing to 28 to 30 per cent of the city's pollution, Polash Mukherjee, Senior Research Associate with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
The air quality in the national capital and its surroundings turned "near severe" on Thursday with humidity trapping particulate matter added to stubble burning by Punjab and Haryana farmers.
Harsh Vardhan said his Ministry was monitoring the situation and 52 teams of officials from his Ministry, Delhi government and other agencies were keeping a vigil on the environment.
"For next five days there will be more active monitoring... The time of Diwali is always very crucial as several things lead to a spike in pollution, due to stubble burning, local pollutants and weather conditions," he said.