Suspend DPCC Chief Ashwini Kumar: AAP ministers request Delhi CM

| Updated: 26 October, 2023 1:44 pm IST
AAP ministers Gopal Rai and Atishi addressed a press conference on Delhi's pollution on Wednesday

NEW DELHI: As winters begin to arrive in Delhi, so does that time of the year when the national capital deals with lung-choking pollution. A political war of words has already begun as Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai and Service Minister Atishi have demanded the suspension of DPCC Chief IAS Ashwini Kumar in a press conference.

Gopal Rai accused the bureaucrat of single-handedly stopping the IIT Kanpur Real-Time Source Apportionment Study which provided data on pollution sources for the government to find solutions on the same. As per Rai, no permission from the Delhi cabinet was taken before making this decision.

Blaming the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accused bureaucrats of the Delhi government of consistently stopping public welfare work.

While addressing the press conference, Minister Gopal Rai said, “We need data from IIT Kanpur to conduct scientific analysis of air pollution, to take appropriate action to control it. DPCC Chairman made the decision to disrupt lives of 2 crore Delhiites without informing relevant minister and Cabinet.”

READ MORE: Delhi Pollution Study halted over concerns of “substantial expenses”

The Environment Minister stated that the government had decided to conduct such a study for the first time in the country, in collaboration with IIT Kanpur, to determine the actual sources of pollution. The study’s estimated cost was Rs 12 crores, out of which Rs 10.6 crores have already been paid to IIT-K.

“This data was necessary for scientific analysis of the increased pollution during the winter season so that appropriate action could be taken,” stated Gopal Rai.

He further explained, “The Delhi government decided to conduct a Real-Time Source Apportionment Study in collaboration with IIT Kanpur to determine when and why pollution is increasing in specific areas. For example, the AQI levels in areas like Anand Vihar, Wazirpur, South Delhi, Narela, and Bawana differ because different sources of pollution play significant roles in different locations.”

“During December 2022, Ashwani Kumar was appointed as the Chairman of DPCC. Prior to this, the Secretary of the Environment Department used to be the Chairman of DPCC. For the first time, the role of the Chairman of DPCC was separated from that of the Secretary of the Environment Department,” the minister clarified.

Rai accused, “The DPCC Chairman made the decision to halt the study without informing the concerned minister and Cabinet. They stopped the pending payment to IIT Kanpur, causing difficulties for around 2 crore Delhiites.”

Meanwhile, Atishi said, “Some people attribute it (pollution) to road dust, while others blame vehicular pollution or stubble burning, but there is no clarity on the matter. Hence we signed an MoU with IIT Kanpur to get real-time data study on the causes of pollution before DPCC chairman Ashwini Kumar single-handedly stopped it.”

Based on these allegations, Gopal Rai and Atishi demanded the suspension of DPCC chairman Ashwini Kumar. They also asked Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to release the second installment to IIT-K.

Atishi said, “Taking note of this matter, Environment Minister Gopal Rai has recommended the suspension of DPCC chairman Shri Ashwini Kumar. His suspension has been recommended because he overturned Cabinet orders and endangered the health and lives of 2 crore Delhi residents.”

She further added, “Environment Minister has also suggested to CM Arvind Kejriwal that the second installment of ₹60 lakhs to IIT Kanpur be released promptly so that the apportionment study can resume.”

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