Crucially, three of the five commissioners of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, and even the Union environment, forests and climate change joint secretary were absent—the ministry had sent a deputy secretary since the joint secretary was expected at a court hearing involving the ministry.
East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir got called out for commentating at a cricket match—he claims the contract was signed much before he got elected—when he should have been attending a meeting called by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development. More so, since the meeting had been called to discuss the deadly pollution in the national capital region (NCR). But, Gambhir wasn’t the only one who neglected his duty as a lawmaker; only four of the 29 MPs who are members of the committee attended the meeting, including Rajya Sabha member from Delhi Sanjay Singh. Crucially, three of the five commissioners of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, and even the Union environment, forests and climate change joint secretary were absent—the ministry had sent a deputy secretary since the joint secretary was expected at a court hearing involving the ministry.
The meeting would have taken up important questions. For instance, whether the government is planning a coherent car pooling policy or regulation in the national capital, if there are reports on how the money allocated by the government for tackling air pollution—Rs 1,500 crore in the last year alone—has been spent, whether the government has fixed and defined responsibilities for officials in the fight against pollution given the Supreme Court had ruled that officials across all levels will be held responsible for worsening AQI, etc. Given, in the campaign phase, politicians like Gambhir make tall promises on delivering good governance, including better health and a cleaner environment, the very least they can do is to discuss issues that afflict citizens. Such dereliction of duty only sends the signal that votes, not citizens, matter. The absentee lawmakers and officials need to keep in mind that acute respiratory infections accounted for nearly 70% of the morbidity last year.