Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday rejected Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's plea for a meeting on stubble-burning and air pollution in the National Capital Region, and asked him to refrain from "trying to politicise a serious issue".
This followed Kejriwal's request via Twitter for a meeting with Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
The Delhi Chief Minister is scheduled to arrive in Chandigarh on Wednesday to meet his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar.
Responding to media reports triggered by Kejriwal's tweet to once again seek a meeting with him, the Punjab chief minister said he "failed to understand why the Delhi Chief Minister was trying to force his hand, knowing well that any such discussion will be meaningless and futile".
"Kejriwal's tendency to indulge in petty street politics is well known," Amarinder Singh said, adding that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader was "evidently trying to divert public attention from his own government's failure to check pollution in Delhi, as exposed by National Green Tribunal response to the ill-conceived odd-even scheme".
Amarinder Singh said: "The problems faced by Delhi and Punjab on this count are completely divergent, with no meeting ground. Unlike Punjab, the Delhi problem is mainly the result of urban pollution caused by mismanaged transportation and unplanned industrial development. Instead of focusing all his attention on resolving these issues, Kejriwal wants to waste time with holding useless discussions."
He said he did not have the same luxury of time (as Kejriwal).
"The Delhi chief minister has often been accused of leaving the national capital in the midst of a crisis and travelling to other places when his presence has been needed the most back home," Amarinder Singh said.
Amarinder Singh said the Supreme Court was already seized of the pollution problem and had already made it clear that it was in favour of a comprehensive long-term solution.
"That is what Punjab is also seeking. I am hopeful that the apex court will show the way to resolve the crisis, with the Centre also pitching in, as requested by Punjab," the Punjab chief minister said.
"As far as stubble-burning is concerned, it is not a political issue that Kejriwal is trying to project it as. It is an economic problem crying for economic solutions, which the central government alone is in a position to provide," he said.
Amarinder Singh said he would continue to pursue with the Centre the matter of compensatory allowance for farmers to enable them to opt for alternatives to the dangerous practice of stubble-burning.
Most of north India, including national capital New Delhi, is witnessing smog that is causing environmental and health concerns and leading to serious accidents.