Sidharth Mishra20

Take those to task who failed to control farm fires

In the first week of November Delhi woke up to the smog at its thickest for the season. The newspapers said that Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) stage III guidelines have been made operational and that a large number of vehicles would be going off the road as long as the guidelines remain operational.

The Delhi government at its end ‘discharged its responsibility and obligation’ by declaring holidays in the schools. The MLAs of the ruling party did their quota of levelling charges saying that the Delhi police stopped them in their fight against pollution. Seriously?

On the day they were protesting their party leader and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was away campaigning in Singrauli Madhya Pradesh. Worse, he was in the company of party leader and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann. The poor state of air in Delhi, which is suffocating its residents, has largely been caused by stubble fire in the fields of Punjab.

On its part, the Punjab government has washed its hands of the blame that stubble burning in the state was cause for pollution in the national Capital and the adjoining areas. In a newspaper report last week, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) chief is reported to have said, “The NGT has already been informed about the standard operation procedure adopted by the Punjab government and PPCB to tackle stubble burning especially in the hotspot districts. However, the board and agriculture department have geared up to control any sort of situation in case the number of cases increase in coming days as the figures continue to fluctuate till November 30, when we get the final number of total cases.”

Sidharth Mishra 2

Working for Delhi government, doing kar sewa

Ask somebody working with the Delhi government what’s happening, the reply more than often would be, “Doing Kar Sewa”. Now what’s doing Kar Sewa? More interestingly when did the word become part of the national vocabulary?

It was 1984, in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star, that the word first became known outside Punjab. When the task to rebuild the portions of Golden Temple in Amritsar, which had got damaged during the operation to flush out terrorists, began, initiative was taken by a group of holy men to render ‘Kar Sewa’.

Kar Sewa, literally meaning voluntary service, is an integral part of Sikh religion. ‘Sarbat da Bhala’ meaning common good of all is one of the fundamental principles of the Sikhism. Thus voluntary service across the country for common good came to be called Kar Sewa.

However, over a period of time it also took a sarcastic hue, almost becoming a synonym for unrewarded work. That’s brings us to the context of Kar Sewa being done in the Delhi government. It started with the unpaid grants for the Delhi government funded Delhi University Colleges.


Challenge to maintain air quality has just begun

In the official files polluting times have begun in Delhi and the national capital region. Although it’s another matter that the morning walkers are still to feel the deteriorating air quality. This possibly because the onset of Diwali has been delayed this year.

Nevertheless, what’s nice to see is that the measures of controlling air pollution like spraying water among others have begun in the right earnest. The pollution control machinery this year thankfully has not waited for the quality measuring meters to turn red before start acting. What’s more wonderful is that nobody in the news headlines is running to take credit for the effort.

The credit for the efforts made so far should go to a rejuvenated Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the national capital region. Led by a ‘battle hardened’ bureaucrat Dr MM Kutty, a former Secretary in union government, the CAQM was established in 2021 to address the deteriorating air quality in Delhi and the NCR. Since the past two years it has taken several important initiatives to combat winter air pollution.

Sidharth Mishra20

Special Cell’s waning aura gets another dent

Last week the Special Cell of Delhi Police was in the news after a very longtime. In the bygone days when the CBI and the ED did not grab the newspaper headlines, it was the Special cell of Delhi Police which seized the public attention. Albeit for very different reasons.

The Delhi High Court last week reduced the death sentence given to the main accused in the Batla House encounter case to lifeterm. The Batla House encounter was a significant operation conducted by the Special Cell in September 2008 around the Jamia Nagar area of South East Delhi.

The operation was aimed at capturing Yasin Bhatkal, the head of Indian Mujahideen. The operation led to the death of some suspects and the apprehension of others, revealing crucial information about terror networks. However, the Special Cell also lost a very decorated officer inspector Mohan Chand Sharma to the bullets of the terrorists.

Formed in the  1980s, the Special Cell of Delhi Police was initally tasked to counter the activities of Punjab militants. Though its primary mission was to gather intelligence and prevent terror incidents, with the waning of Punjab militancy and rise of Pakistan-sponsored terroprism, Special cell became a major component in countering terrorist activities.

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Sisodia’s defence indicates towards fissures in AAP’s ranks

Turbulent times for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) refuses to end. Last week another of its prominent faces, Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate officials. The matter once again related to Delhi Excise scam under which party’s number two Manish Sisodia continues to cool his heels in the Tihar Jail. Party’s another ace Satyender Jain is behind the bars in another money laundering case  

A party, whose one of the mainstays of success and survival has been creating favourable perceptions on the social media, once again did well to overcome the setback last week by pushing a suitable narrative to cover up the arrest -- it was not be a mere coincidence that the Supreme Court observations in Manish Sisodia’s bail argument, which suited AAP, got more coverage than Sanjay Singh’s arrest.

While hearing the bail plea of former Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia last week, the apex court remarked that the inferences in the case against Manish Sisodia seemed to be based on hearsay and will fall flat in two minutes. While the newspapers went to town with court’s observation, not many reported the government’s counter. Additional Solicitor General SV Raju responded to question from the bench saying, “Question is, is he not directly or indirectly involved in illegal activity or process? ... When you make a policy that triggers bribes which acts as proceeds of crimes.”