When it comes to environmental issues, it is best to try not to point political fingers. Because pollution is a collective failure. And more importantly, we need everyone to cooperate in order to do something effective about it. But when the data is so clear and so one-sided, it would be simply dishonest not to point it out. By now, you must have heard about how the crop stubble burning across Punjab and Haryana has turned Delhi into a gas chamber.
According to SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research) which comes under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, crop stubble burning now accounts for 46% or almost half of the total pollution in Delhi’s air.
The media keeps saying that Punjab, Delhi and Haryana should resolve this issue mutually. This sounds nice and ‘neutral’ because that would mean one Chief Minister each from Congress, AAP and BJP.
But is that really the case? Is crop stubble burning from Haryana really in the picture? This satellite picture of fires shared by India Today’s Data Intelligence Unit suggests that the answer is an emphatic NO!
This is conclusive, leaving no room for doubt. The BJP government in Haryana has basically ended the process of crop stubble burning. The problem is almost exclusively coming from Congress-ruled Punjab.
Again, it is not nice to go partisan on environmental issues, but that does not mean we should cultivate illusions.
Here is another NASA satellite image shared by NDTV.
Just look at the actual photo they have shared of stubble burning and see if you can convince yourself to agree with the line that both Punjab and Haryana are responsible for Dehli pollution woes!
Hard to find another image that captures the difference between Congress and BJP rule so clearly.
No other way to put this: but that smoke in Delhi’s lungs is the aroma of Indian liberalism. And just like Indian ‘secularism,’ it is bad for everyone: Hindu, Muslim, whatever.
Meanwhile, liberal journalists have been talking about “questions” that border on denial of both science and common sense.
Indeed, why should it matter if the winter airflow pattern goes from Punjab towards Haryana and down to Delhi? It’s not like effects of environmental damage can become visible far away from the places that cause them.
In fact, I have some similar questions. How come the ice caps on the South Pole are melting due to CO2 emissions? There is no heavy industry, nor vehicular traffic nor agriculture in Antarctica! Makes sense, no?
Clearly, the need of the hour is to identify the causes of the problem and do something about it, regardless of political inclinations. But as the smog over Delhi continues, liberals continue to drag politics into it.
This is the kind of tweet that would prompt a BJP supporter to ask where was the concern for people when almost 50% of households before 2014 were breathing smoke every day, cooking on firewood? Was that not vulgar enough?
But does this blame game help Delhi breathe better? Who wins in this?
Just last month, we have seen liberals blatantly using environmental issues for partisan purposes. Remember Aarey forest? A small patch of it was being chopped down to make way for a metro railway that would save a lot of CO2 from being pumped into the atmosphere.
But the science did not matter to the Aarey protesters. Their target was BJP Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Just like the science on airflow and satellite images from NASA don’t matter. Because the aim is to somehow drag in the BJP government in Haryana which has done a stellar job of containing crop stubble burning.
In this particular case, with Delhi pollution through the roof, the problem of stubble burning is coming mainly from Punjab and not from Haryana. It is a state ruled by Congress and it is Capt Amarinder Singh’s government which must find the solution. It is for citizens and media to bring pressure on the Govt of Punjab to own up responsibility. And they must stop dragging in the Govt of Haryana, just to appear ‘balanced.’ If the X-ray image shows that only one leg is broken, we can’t ask the doctor to pretend that both legs are broken, just to appear ‘balanced.’
The satellite image doesn’t lie. Let us accept it.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar – A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.
This post was last modified on November 6, 2019 10:08 pm