New Delhi: A meeting of a parliamentary standing committee to discuss the rising levels of air pollution in the national capital was postponed as most participants, including East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir and civic officials, were absent.
Out of 29 members in the committee, only four were present, according to sources.
“The quorum for the committee meetings is one-third. Only four MPs came for the meeting,” the source said.
From Delhi, BJP’s cricketer-turned-politician Gambhir and Aam Aadmi Party’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh were supposed to attend. Sources said Singh was present, along with Jagdambika Pal, who heads the panel, C.R. Patil and Hasnain Masoodi.
According to the sources, the MPs, who were present, were unhappy with the other MPs and officials skipping the meeting.
As former cricketer V.V.S. Laxman on Friday shared photos with Gambhir in Indore where they were enjoying local cuisine for breakfast and later Gambhir was doing commentary for the test match between India and Bangladesh, Delhi’s ruling AAP hit out at the BJP, questioning its seriousness in dealing with Delhi’s air pollution.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the Parliamentary Committee gave the meeting notice well in advance on November 8.
“BJP calls Parliamentary Committee meeting on Pollution symbolic. MCD Commissioners and DDA VC remain absent. MP Gambhir only giving Twitter Gyan but doesn’t attend this meeting,” he tweeted.
Bhardwaj also said that it has become a usual practice for three MCD Commissioners to not attend meetings to “avoid any direct accountability and they can sacrifice Junior officers by shifting blame on them”.
AAP leader Raghav Chadha also said that the Parliamentary standing committee meeting on pollution gets cancelled “as BJP-run MCDs, BJP-run DDA, MOEF bureaucrats reporting to BJP-run Union Government and BJP MPs (including Delhi MP Gambhir) fail to turn up”.
Noting its MP had been present, the AAP challenged Gambhir to stop playing blame games over pollution and attend meetings on air pollution, “instead of sitting in commentary box and enjoying”.
In response, Gambhir, in a tweet, shared a statement where he listed the work he has done in his constituency since he came to power after winning the Lok Sabha polls.
He said that his commitment to his city and constituency should be judged by the work he has done and not by the “propaganda and false narrative” spread by the “minions of the honest chief minister”.
Gambhir said that he is available in his office from 11 a.m. and listens to the grievances of the people from his constituency, adding that if by abusing him, Delhi’s pollution levels came down, then the AAP was free to do so.
In a statement, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said it was a meeting of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Urban Development and it, asked to be represented, had its Deputy Secretary and representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board in attendance. “The Joint Secretary could not attend as she was to appear for an important matter in the Supreme Court. Also, detailed notes were submitted to the ministry of Urban Development prior as was asked,” it said.
North Delhi Municipal Corporation Commissioner Varsha Joshi told IANS that she was in Lucknow attending a meeting on urban mobility. scheduled months in advance, and therefore, could not attend.
When contacted for a response, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said Gambhir went to Indore to attend a family function. Accusing AAP of highlighting Gambhir so that people will not focus on its failures, he said: “Air pollution is Kejriwal’s responsibility. If Parliamentarians were supposed to run Delhi then Kejriwal should step down, MPs will run it.”