New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) The Congress Monday accused the NDA and AAP governments of putting Delhittes at the risk of “death by breath”, saying they lacked the political will to tackle the pollution situation in the national capital. Also Read - Loco Pilot Held For Raping, Blackmailing Minor UP Girl

The party’s remarks came as Delhi’s air quality deteriorated sharply on Monday to fall in the ‘severe’ category for the second time within a week due to a change in wind direction and rampant stubble burning in neighbouring states. Also Read - Farmers Protest: Delhi Borders Closed, Delhi Traffic Police Asks Commuters to Take Alternative Routes

Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the issue, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said while pollution is reaching hazardous levels in Delhi, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are only interested in scoring political points and one-upmanship. Also Read - Akshay Kumar Meets Yogi Adityanath, Discusses Possibilities For Film Shooting in Uttar Pradesh

He accused both the parties of indulging in hollow rhetoric against tackling pollution in the capital city.

Singhvi said people in Delhi and north India are suffering from “death by breath” and the governments of Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are clueless.

“Even as PM’ (Particulate Matter) level rises and Delhi suffers, PM Modi’s government dithers,” he said.

The overall air quality index on Monday was registered in the severe category at 418. The PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) and PM10 concentrations spiked to ‘severe-plus emergency’ category at 361 and 500 respectively, according to CPCB data.

“The shadow-boxing between the Modi government and AAP government in Delhi, and their combined lack of political will to fight ‘the great smog of India’ is squarely responsible for this health hazard.

“Prime Minister Modi, who creates much hype and hoopla over the Swachh Bharat Mission’, is absolutely silent on the fact that Varanasi, his constituency, along with Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur, is now among the most polluted cities in the world,” he told reporters.

Singhvi said there is a virtual atmospheric emergency in the Delhi-NCR with the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi touching alarming .

He said the there was a spectacular increase in PM2.5 level in Delhi over the past few hours. “The BJP and the AAP are only interested in scoring political points and one-upmanship. We saw the physical violence, while an iconic Congress conceptualised (Signature) bridge was being inaugurated in Delhi.

“We saw the sheer blame game on Pollution last year. We have been witnessing how both parties indulge in hollow rhetoric without concrete action against air pollution,” Singhvi said.

Taking a dig at Modi’s Clean India campaign, he said, “How can you have a Swachh Bharat coexist with this level of pollution. How can the prime minister be silent?” Claiming that the Congress-led Punjab has reduced its stubble burning by 72 per cent in a year, he said while Punjab has taken so much effort to reduce pollution, BJP-led state governments in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have not initiated any steps.

Singhvi said air pollution cannot be handled by “temporary, piecemeal, seasonal” measures and needs a “permanent, long-term, effective solutions and solid political will”.

The impenetrable haze and the intolerable smell of burning have cast a dark cloud on the festivities in northern India, particularly in Delhi, he said.

Singhvi said a Mumbai batsman Siddhesh Lad to play a Ranji Trophy match wearing a mask due to poor air quality. “This will not surprise us because last year in December, in a similar embarrassing instance Sri Lankan players had come out to play wearing air pollution masks,” he said.

Citing some reports, he claimed around 93 pc children globally under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe toxic air daily and 25 pc of them die in India.

The Congress leader said every year, over 10 lakh people die a silent death’ due to air pollution in India. Delhi was named as the ‘world’s most polluted mega city’, as per a WHO report, he said.

Singhvi said the construction of the Phase 4 of the Delhi Metro, as conceptualised by previous Congress governments, should not be stopped as inaction will affect people of Delhi.

He also sought that the Ministry of Railways also seriously examine reviving the 35 km Ring Railway in Delhi, and better integrate it with the city’s public transport network so that trucks do not enter.

Make coal-based power plants comply with pollution norms and buy electricity from gas-based power plants, he said, asking the Centre and Delhi government to strictly enforce these measures to fight air pollution.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.