The MoEF&CC and environment ministers of the five NCR states had met three times this year to take steps on the issue of air pollution. Preventing stubble burning of crops in Punjab and Haryana and burning of biomass was also one of the issues taken up during these meetings and for which the ministry issued directions on Wednesday.
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Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised everyone on Independence Day when he gave his speech at the Red Fort without the usual bulletproof glass enclosure, which has been constantly used since the first time it was used for Rajiv Gandhi at the 1985 Republic Day parade.
However, after the Gurdaspur terror attack in Punjab, recent incidents of militancy in areas of Jammu and Kashmir like Pulwama, repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan and the hanging of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memonh, the security establishment has strongly urged PM Modi to stay within the glass shield.
“This time, we want the bullet-resistant glass enclosure back in its place to ensure better security for the PM, who continues to face threats from terrorists and extremists. As of now, no final decision has been taken on its insertion but we continue to insist,” Hindustan Times quoted a home ministry official as saying.
The report added that last year, the glass enclosure had been removed hours before the PM’s speech on his request so that he could ‘directly connect’ with the audience. However, this year, PM Modi might have to make his speech inside the glass enclosure since “intelligence agencies have assessed Modi to be the most threatened PM after Rajiv Gandhi,” according to the HT report.
The situation indeed looks tense ahead of the 69th Independence Day as security has been tightened across Punjab, especially in border districts in the wake of Gurdaspur terror attack last month, besides Haryana and Chandigarh.
A massive security alert had also been sounded on Tuesday in four northeastern States after separatist rebels announced a boycott of Independence Day celebrations on 15 August.
On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had warned that some terrorists groups are trying to destabilise peace in the state before Independence and had said she had received a detailed input from the Intelligence Bureau in this regard.
Talking to reporters at the state secretariat before leaving for New Delhi, Banerjee had said, “An alert has been sounded at airports, railway stations, important public places and all vital installations across the state.”
(With inputs from PTI)