Bhopal Gas Leak Was An 'Emergency' Situation, Not Delhi Smog: Harsh Vardhan

| November 14 , 2017 , 16:46 IST

The toxic blanket of smog that has been covering the national capital Delhi and its surrounding areas has resulted in a panic regarding the health consequences, with the Indian Medical Association terming it an 'Emergency situation.

However, Union Environment Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has specified that there is no need to panic, and that the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984 was an 'emergency' not the current smog covering Delhi.

In an interview with CNN-News 18, Vardhan said that while the air pollution and smog is detrimental to health, "no death certificate has the cause of death as pollution" and there should not be any panic.

"Beyond a certain level, it is certainly detrimental for anybody's health. But what I have said and I'm going to assert is that there is no cause for anybody to spread panic about the whole issue. And as of today, the data clearly shows that the Air Quality is improving over the last 24 hours or so. PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels have certainly gone down. I am hopeful that in the next few days, it will become much better than what it has been," said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

ALSO READ: IMA Declares Public Health Emergency State In Delhi Due To Smog

"Let me clarify that I have never said that we shouldn't be bothered. All I am saying is that there is no need to frighten people. There is only a need to educate people and tell them about the routine precautions that they have to take. And I am sure that with routine precautions, people will be able to take care of it. I am not saying someone with lung problems should not go to the hospital," he added.

"I am talking in practical terms. You see, what happened in Bhopal when there was a gas leak and hundreds of thousands of people fell acutely sick and had to be rushed to the hospital. We call that an emergency situation where you have to panic and you have to see what you have to do. I'm not saying we shouldn’t do anything about it (Delhi smog); everyone has to respond to what he is supposed to do. But there is no need to spread panic among the people," Dr Vardhan said.

The comments made by the environment minister have drawn criticisms from both the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress.

ALSO READ: Heavy Fog Results In 24-Car Pile-Up On Yamuna Expressway, Several Injured

"Dr. Harsh Vardhan is medical professional and Union Minister but this is not the first time he has made such comments. Earlier, he had said that this is not a reason to panic. He then said it's harmful but nobody dies of pollution. This shows that the BJP and its leaders know nothing about the environment and pollution and they don't even want to understand such things. They are running away from their responsibilities. Dr. Harsh Vardhan is not only a Union Minister, he is also a Member of Parliament from Delhi. He should be worried about this situation," said Ashutosh, spokesperson and senior leader of AAP.

The Delhi Congress also slammed Vardhan for the 'insensitive comment' especially since the comment was coming from a doctor.

"This is a very insensitive comment, especially coming from a medical doctor. He, more than anyone else, should know that pollution can be a major cause of death. It is unfortunate that a doctor is turning away from such a health crisis. I think he is trying to divert attention from his government's complete lack of action. If BJP is saying it's not an emergency, they have lost touch with ground realities and have gone blind. BJP should realize that this is not about politics. This is hampering the health of even BJP leaders and workers in Delhi, like any other citizen of Delhi. So this is not an issue on which one should do politics. Both the Central Government and Delhi Government cannot be exonerated from their responsibilities," said DPCC Vice President Sarmistha Mukherjee.