The Delhi government is “free” to do aerial sprinkling of water if it thinks the move is the most cost-effective measure to contain dust pollution in the city, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said today. Vardhan’s comment came days after Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain wrote to him requesting the Centre to sprinkle water from choppers or any other aircraft to settle dust, a major source of air pollution in the city. Referring to media reports that the Centre did not agree to the AAP government’s demand for sprinkling of water from helicopter, Vardhan said his ministry has already responded to the request. “The ministry (environment) has also asked the state government to examine cost-effectiveness of the measure vis- a-vis other simpler measures such as mechanised/vacuum sweeping of roads, blacktopping of dusty roads and road shoulders, etc.,” an official statement quoted the minister as saying.
It also said, “However, he (Vardhan) said that if the government of Delhi thought that sprinkling water through helicopter was the most cost-effective measure, it was free to do so.” In his letter last month, Hussain asked Vardhan that the city government was ready to bear the expenses that would entail any such exercise using its air ambience fund, a corpus created out of Rs 25 paisa cess on every litre of diesel sold in Delhi.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia claimed that the AAP government has not received any response with regard to its recent request to do aerial sprinkling of water. Sisodia also demanded that the Centre intervene on the issue of crop burning by neighbouring states which leads to worsening of air quality in the city. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also said that the Delhi government wrote letters to adjoining states in August urging them to take steps to check crop burning. “Delhi govt wrote letters to adjoining states in Aug urging them to take steps to check crop burning (sic),” he tweeted.