New Delhi : Under attack from the opposition for not spending a single penny in 2017 out of the Rs 787 crore collected as environment cess, the Delhi government on Wednesday said it has prepared a one-year short-term plan to tackle air pollution, an official said.

A Delhi government official said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting with senior officials on Tuesday evening and directed that the environmental cess and environmental ambient air fund be used for procurement of buses.

Earlier, the official said Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot also met DIMTS (Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Ltd) officials over the issue.

Revealing the government’s plans, he said: “The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has prepared a one-year short-term plan, under which it proposes to procure 500 electric buses within one year.”

He said the government was planning to procure buses of two different sizes — Standard and Medium. According to him, a standard size bus costs Rs 2.6 crore while the medium size bus comes for Rs 1.6 crore.

Defending his government, AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj in a series of tweets said: “Delhi government has never said we do not have money to tackle pollution. We have instead said we have budget to buy buses, but no space to park.”

“We have said we are even ready to pay for aerial water sprinkling, we just need support from central government and Civil Aviation Ministry,” he wrote.

Suggesting that the Lt Governor was not allotting land for depots for the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) fleet, he said: “Government has plan to buy 500 electrical buses (Midi and Std), but no depots to park them.

LG (Lt Governor) controls land.”

Khattar, Kejriwal pledge to jointly fight smog in 2018

Chandigarh : Chief Ministers Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana and Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi on Wednesday met for nearly 90 minutes here and agreed to take steps to prevent a repeat of smog in the National Capital Region (NCR) next year.

“We … are happy to have had a very fruitful meeting at Chandigarh. We recognize our deep and shared concern over the recent episode of heavy smog in our NCR. We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at preventing its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018,” a joint statement said.

“During discussions, we agreed that the serious health risk to which such episodes of smog expose one and all require concrete and quick action on a number of fronts.

“We covered crop residue burning and vehicular pollution issues. We resolve to put in sustained efforts in pursuance of the jointly identified action points in the coming days, weeks and months,” the statement added.

“We look forward to covering other sources of air and water pollution in our future discussions,” it said.

Speaking to the media after his meeting with Khattar, Kejriwal said: “We cannot control the direction of the wind. We all will have to make efforts to control air pollution.”

Kejriwal, who had earlier blamed farmers of Punjab and Haryana for causing smoke and air pollution in Delhi, avoided blaming anyone.

Khattar said: “We have discussed a number of steps that can be taken to ease air pollution.”

Both Chief Ministers did not take any question from the media.

Kejriwal was earlier greeted by protests by activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress when he reached the Chandigarh airport.

Opposition leaders in Haryana criticized Khattar for agreeing to meet Kejriwal, saying the Delhi Chief Minister was raking up the issue only to blame farmers in Haryana and Punjab for causing air pollution by burning stubble.

Kejriwal flew into Chandigarh along with Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain and Environment Department Secretary Keshav Chandra. He had earlier written to the Chief Ministers of both Haryana and Punjab and sought a joint meeting to find a solution to the problem that has led to widespread health concerns in the NCR.But on Tuesday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh rejected Kejriwal’s request and instead asked him to refrain from trying to politicize a serious issue.

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