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A war of words has broken out between Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal over the cause of a sudden spike in pollution levels in the national capital. Speaking to reporters, Javadekar said stubble burning contributed to only 4% of the pollution levels, while Kejriwal said that “staying in denial will not help" address the problem.

Delhi saw a spike in air pollution levels. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government said stubble burning in neighbouring states was a major reason for the spike in pollution levels in winter.

“Fifty teams of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will be deployed for inspection in Delhi-NCR from today. Stubble burning contributes only 4% of pollutants in the environment of Delhi. Rest are due to local factors such as dust, construction and biomass burning," Javadekar said.

In the last month, Javadekar held several meetings with representatives of states from northern India to discuss steps to reduce pollution.

However, Kejriwal said that stubble burning causes huge pollution every year and blaming one another will not help. The government is taking steps to ensure that Delhi’s own pollution levels are reduced, he added. “Staying in denial will not help. If stubble burning causes only 4% pollution, then why has pollution suddenly increased in the last fortnight? Air was clean before that. Same story every year. There’s no massive jump in any local source of pollution in last few days to cause this spike," Kejriwal tweeted. “Let’s accept that stubble burning causes huge pollution every year in North India during this time. And let’s all together find a solution sincerely. Blame game and politics hasn’t helped anyone. People are suffering. I am extremely worried that pollution will play havoc coupled with corona," he added.

The Delhi government on Thursday launched a campaign to reduce pollution caused by idling vehicles. The government estimates this will help reduce levels of PM10. It has also started an anti-dust campaign, under which the government issued guidelines and announced strict penal actions on violating the norms. Besides, it has issued guidelines for construction work.

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