Prime Minister Narendra Modi is getting flak online after a 2018 report on his government’s purchase of air purifiers began recirculating. The criticism comes as the government’s air quality monitor, SAFAR, said on Wednesday that pollution levels in Delhi-NCR were expected to enter the “severe plus” or “emergency” category.
Delhi’s air quality had slipped into the ‘severe’ category on Tuesday.
The comments are based on a Reuters report from March 2018 which quoted government data to say the Centre had spent Rs 36 lakh to buy air purifiers for Modi’s offices and at least six central departments between 2014 and 2017.
The outrage is fuelled by comments made by Modi government’s ministers whose solutions to combat air pollution in the capital have included asking people to eat more carrots (health minister Harsh Vardhan!) and starting their day with music (environment minister Prakash Javadekar!).
A UP minister said governments should hold yagyas to please the rain god and set things right.
These perceptive public statements were made when air pollution levels in the capital had emergency levels just three weeks ago, soon after Diwali.
The story on Modi government’s purchase of air purifiers got traction online on Tuesday when environmentalist Vimlendu Jha tweeted out an India Today link.
Jha later pointed out that the story temporarily went offline and back online with tweaks. Changes included removing Modi’s name from the headline and his photo.
Meanwhile, Modi hasn’t publicly said anything about the toxic air in the capital and large parts of North India, even as the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre and state governments last week for their inability to curb stubble burning and bring air pollution in Delhi under control.
“You are asking people to die,” the SC bench had said in sharp criticism of the governments.
Modi’s first direct intervention in the matter came on November 7 when he asked the agriculture ministry to distribute equipment to farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on a priority basis to tackle stubble burning, Scroll reported.
Stubble burning in neighbouring states is among the main reasons the noxious haze returned to Delhi and its suburbs on Tuesday, PTI reported.