Amarinder Singh Gill and Arun Jaitley
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh calls on Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi, in October 2017.IANS

Even as the National Capital Regions (NCR) continues to choke with air pollution level hitting its peak this year, the political leadership are engrossed in a blame game, vitiating the atmosphere further with a nasty war of words. On Thursday, chief ministers of Delhi and Punjab were seen locked up in a verbal dual, rather than engaging in a positive joint effort to alleviate the problem faced by the people suffering from the contaminated air. 

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh took a jibe at his counterpart in Delhi Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday,  calling him a "peculiar person" who understands nothing. Singh's swipe came after Kejriwal blamed Punjab and Haryana for causing the pollution in the national capital. The Delhi CM had also alleged that the chief ministers of the neighbouring states had refused to respond to his call for a meeting to solve the problem. 

Kejriwal on Thursday urged the Punjab and the Haryana CMs to meet him in order to arrive on a solution for the worsening air pollution in the capital, after a thick smog engulfed it since Tuesday, November 7. 

Earlier on Thursday,  Amarinder Singh called Kejriwal as a 'peculiar person' and said that he (Kejriwal) had a viewpoint on everything, but understands nothing. Singh's comment came after the Delhi CM claimed that stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is the main reason for the thick smog in Delhi.

"If I have got 20 million tonnes of paddy straw and I ask the farmer to store this, farms will be covered with the paddy straw. Mr Kejriwal doesn't understand this problem," Singh was quoted as saying by NDTV.

"Mr Kejriwal is a very peculiar person...he has his own viewpoints on everything without understanding the situation," added Singh.

Kejriwal had said that he has not been given appointment by the CMs of Punjab and Haryana, so a solution can be discussed over smog. "I haven't yet got a chance to meet the two chief ministers," he said.

Referring to the stubble burning, the Delhi CM said, "I feel terrible that the people of Delhi are facing this huge pollution crisis. Farmers burning stubble is a problem, it is an economic issue. The governments of Haryana and Punjab have to find a solution, otherwise we will face these problems every year."

"Wind speed is at a standstill, pollutants aren't dissipated, temperature inversion causes a chain reaction and there is smog," said Keshav Chandra, the environment secretary.

Urging the Centre to intervene in the situation of crisis, the Punjab chief minister wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the letter, he also requested for financial help to the farmers, so the stubble storage can be managed and the burning can be avoided.

According to Singh, meeting of state CMs will not help in the smog crisis. He said that the Centre should rise for rescue of the farmers in Punjab, at this moment, and added that only Centre alone is capable to solve this inter-state crisis.

In response to Singh's letter to the PM, Kejriwal said, "The chief ministers are saying that they have to offer subsidies to the farmers, but we need to know how much money is needed. We need to discuss this."

He added, "It's whole country's responsibility. We have to put aside politics and we all have to sit together and find solutions."

Delhi smog
Vehicles drive through heavy smog in Delhi, India, November 8, 2017.Reuters

The level of polluted air has worsened since last year and following this, the Delhi government has yet again announced the controversial odd even scheme from November 13-17. Taking preventive measures to avoid further worsening of air pollution and the road accidents, the Delhi government has instructed the transport authorities to increase the number of buses and add coaches to the metro trains. The odd-even plan will be in place from the coming week.

The Haryana government has also decided to install smog-eating towers in Gurugram and Faridabad.

Meanwhile, considering the crisis situation the NCR is in now, the chief secretary of Delhi along with the authorities from the neighbouring states and the pollution control agencies have been summoned by a top official from the Union Environment Ministry, as per the directions of Delhi High Court.