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CM Arvind Kejriwal needs to take responsibility for pollution: Hardeep Singh Puri

As the poor air quality becomes an annual feature, Puri talks about why Delhi must implement the decongestion plan. He also discussed the need for setting the narrative right on Central Vista redevelopment plan and the country’s stand on Regional ...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 19, 2019, 08.13 AM IST
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The pollution is on account of the fact that the Delhi government has not been able to address the main cause, said Puri.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal needs to take responsibility for the capital’s air pollution and not make excuses like stubble burning, says housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Puri. As the poor air quality becomes an annual feature, Puri tells Nidhi Sharma why Delhi must implement the decongestion plan. He also discussed the need for setting the narrative right on Central Vista redevelopment plan and the country’s stand on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Edited excerpts:

On Delhi’s annual air emergency situation
The pollution is on account of the fact that the Delhi government has not been able to address the main cause. Let me give you two aspects of pollution – one is stubble burning, you put that aside. Somebody has to take the responsibility. At the very beginning, I told Kejriwal – you have to act on the Delhi Decongestion Plan. But, he comes up with noise and eye-catching schemes like odd-even. It may be good or bad. I think it is a band aid solution. You need to treat the ailment. The main issue in decongestion here is public transport.

On shortage of buses in Delhi
He has the sanction to buy 11,000 buses but Delhi is still 7,000 short. What is he dealing with – gimmicks. Make it free for women. I got up in Parliament and said let us give free travel facility to senior citizens and students. My lady friends tell me they do not want free travel. They are interested in secure and safe travel.

Where will you get in?
There are no buses. You need to deal with things you are directly responsible for. Our policies are sound. What our policies stipulate is moving people around. What we are doing is moving cars around.

Shrinking Lutyens Bungalow Zone to exclude Golf Links and other colonies
We have to certainly look at that. It was almost done. But we will relook, now that we are opening up the area to redevelopment.

On Central Vista redevelopment and development of Parliament and Common Central Secretariat
Much of the narrative that you are seeing on Delhi is a false or contrived narrative. A lot of people are spreading rumours. We were waiting for Parliament to convene. This plan will only be finalised after we have had widespread consultations

On Swachh Bharat
From a project of the government it has become a jan aandolan. But right now we can’t let the eye off the ball. It cannot be self-verification but third party verification. All our states are open defecation free and we hope this remains even six months from now.

On Smart City Mission rethink
We are satisfied with the progress of the mission. Out of 100 smart cities, command and control centres would be ready in half of them within a month. My sense is that well before the five year period is over for all the smart cities, you will have most of the works completed. The first aim is to complete these 100 smart cities. The demand to include more cities is coming. But this mission is designed for 100 cities. Just now we have no rethink on these

100. We would not add any more cities.

On RCEP
When China was resuming its membership of World Trading Organization (Uruguay round), a lot of people were salivating at the idea of a large market opening up. A lot of them underestimated that China apart from being a large market is also going to be a huge manufacturing capacity which it will unleash on the world. China’s integration into WTO did not result in full transparency into its pricing structure. Democratically, elected governments need to be very very careful when signing trade pacts. As of today, our government is not comfortable entering into that (negotiated package) would serve the best interests. RCEP without India doesn’t have any meaning for other countries. This is a dynamic process.

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