In the last decade or so, the national capital of India earned the reputation for being polluted, hazardous and a den for illegal factories in the residential area. Surprisingly, quite a lot of it is true. The Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) recently listed 51,837 units operating from non-conforming-residential areas and asked the three municipal corporations to initiate action against them. This basically means that there are thousands of polluting factories operating brazenly in many residential areas that they are not authorised to operate. Now, the National Green Tribunal has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to form a two-member committee to look into the matter, as reported by The Hindu.
A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “The North Corporation, East Corporation, South Corporation, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation and Delhi Development Authority will cooperate and provide all assistance to the committee constituted by the CPCB.”
According to the Times of India, DSIIDC had reported, most violations are in west Delhi’s- Moti Nagar, Kirti Nagar, Ramesh Nagar, Jangpura, Najafgarh and Mansarovar Garden. In South Delhi, Bhogal, Ashram, Mahipalpur, Maharani Bagh and Jangpura and Gandhi Nagar, Jheel, Shastri Nagar, Kailash Nagar, Jafrabad and Shahdara in east Delhi; and Sadar Bazaar, Chandni Chowk, Malkaganj, Ballimaran, Lal Kuan and Kashmere Gate in north Delhi. There are a few other highly affected areas. These factories mostly deal with dyes, chemicals, rubber, asbestos, plastics, electrical and auto spare parts, iron smelting and fluorescent lights.
Pollution by these factories
It is not new to anybody that air pollution in Delhi is one of the significant problems that the national capital is reeling under. Delhi’s air is already polluted by dust, fodder burning and industrial and vehicular emission, due to which the air quality index has done worst in the past. The emission due to these factories are polluting the air by either emitting poisonous gases or their liquid waste is getting mixed with the local drains emitting harmful particles.
No factories in the residential area
Back in 1996, DSSIDC under a scheme for industrial establishment had allotted some plots outside the residential area to many of these factory owners. Other than that in 2003, the Supreme Court in its verdict in C Mehta vs Union of India case, stated that all industrial units that had come up in non-conforming (residential) areas on or after August 1, 1990, should be shut done within a stipulated time frame.
Only small-scale factories can run
Surprisingly, the Supreme Court order was not implemented properly as DSIIDC listing proves that many illegal factories continue to run in the residential areas. According to the Master Plan Delhi of 2021, the only small-scale industries that can run from the residential area can be matchstick making, incense sticks and garland-making small-scale factories.
A few months back, the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee has made it clear that municipal corporations should take action against these factories. They must seal factories and industrial units that have been causing pollution in residential areas. Till now, there was some ambiguity in the regard that if the municipal bodies can issue a notice to these factories. Over which, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) cleared that it can only issue notices while the civic bodies are authorised to “seal” such units.
Threat due to the factories in Residential areas
Emission of toxic gases and waste is one of the reasons for “sealing” these factories. The other reason is these factories are prone to fire hazards. In May, this year a massive fire broke out in a rubber factory in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar’s residential area. Though no casualty was reported in this case, there are high chances that these factories can risk the lives of a lot of people.
The shut down of the factories
After the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee’s order last week, the North civic body sealed 81 metal polishing units in Karol Bagh and 20 such illegal units in Sultanpuri, among others.
Earlier, under the guise of “ease of doing business”, the discoms (electricity suppliers) were allowed to give connections to owners. The municipal inspectors were also not sent out to inspect such units, as the corporations proposed new factory licensing norms. However, after the committee’s direction, the corporations will continue inspection and sealing of such units until new norms.
The corporation has also stated that since most of these factory owners, after getting their unit sealed, would set up shops somewhere else, so they have filed a plea in the Delhi High Court that power discoms cannot give electricity connections to applicants without a NOC (no-objection certificate) from the concerned municipal corporation.
The sealing drive of these units started in Delhi on December 22 last year on the directions of the monitoring committee. In the last six months, the three civic agencies have sealed at least 6,000 units, reports Hindustan Times.
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