New Delhi, Nov 14: Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, in a shocking statement, said that the situation in Delhi, due to increasing pollution levels, is much better than 1984 Bhopal gas leak that killed 25,000 people. Smog continues to engulf Delhi-NCR since last week, triggering panic of a major health crisis among the residents. (ALSO READ: Arvind Kejriwal Again Seeks Time From Punjab CM Amarinder Singh For Meeting Over Stubble Burning)

The Union Minister, in an exclusive interview to CNN-News18, said that pollution is detrimental for anybody’s health beyond a certain level but, there is no need to spread panic about it as no death certificate has pollution as the cause of death.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi on Tuesday improved to an average reading of 308 but, the air quality still remains “very poor”, CPCB data said. As per officials, light rains are expected in the city on Wednesday which might further intensify the fog but could clear the smog.

Clarifying his statement, he said that people should not be frightened about the conditions in Delhi but, must take routine precautions. He added that his benchmark for ’emergency’ kind of situation was 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy due to which hundreds of thousands of people fell sick and had to be rushed to the hospitals. His statement came when he was reminded that around 30,000 people die every year in Delhi due to pollution.

This is not the first time the minister’s comments on the Delhi smog crisis have invited criticism. Earlier, he had said that while smog is harmful it “does not kill”. Lashing out at him, the Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh said that such kind of statements by BJP leaders show that the party does not know anything about the environment and pollution. He alleged the BJP from running away from their responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the Aam Aadi Party (AAP) government in Delhi, on Tuesday, filed a fresh review petition before National Green Tribunal in connection with odd-even policy requesting the Green Panel to exempt two-wheelers and women drivers for one year or till 2,000 additional buses are engaged. It also requested the panel to direct the neighbouring state to start implementing the Odd-Even scheme.

The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee President Sarmishtha Mukherjee also hit out at the Union Minister for his statement and termed his comment as insensitive. “It is unfortunate to see a medical doctor turning away from such a health crisis,” she said.