Good riddance

There are no less than 5,000 of them — and more opening up — illegal industrial units that are supposed to be relocated from the heart of the Capital. The apex court has given them 15 days to move

For years, Delhi has had industrial units bang in the middle of residential areas. They look ugly, tend to choke roads and create a hazardous environment. Even though efforts began as early as 1996 to move them out, the city’s authorities have failed to get rid of them.

Now the Supreme Court has taken a strong view on this urban blight, asking all the remaining 5,000 industries that still exist in non-conforming and residential areas to be closed down within 15 days of its order on October 11.
Mohanjeet Singh, MD, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIISC) tells Patriot that since the last survey in 2004 — when the committee to look into this was constituted — more such non-conforming industries may have cropped up.

“What we have done in the past three or four years is send information of allotment and asked the three municipal corporations to check and close them as needed”, Singh adds. Most manufacturing units have their industries in the non-conforming/ residential areas, which create “traffic congestion, noise pollution and are a nuisance to people residing there”.

The implementation of the order will eventually help not just the environment and in effect the residents, but also the productivity of these industries, says Singh, as they would have better facilities and more space.

In 1998, the relocation scheme had been initiated and handed over to the DSIIDC. A total of 51,837 applications under the relocation scheme were received out of which 27,985 applicants were found eligible. But out of these eligible applicants, 6,025 applicants became defaulters. Thus, the total number of confirmed allotments as on date is 21,960.

According to Singh, even those that were given allotments under the relocation scheme remained in the non-conforming or residential areas while some others even went on to sell them. With the original allotments in Bawana’s total 16,007 now being used by just 2,484, according to a document provided.

As per the information, the initial allotments of industrial plots under the scheme were made at the Bawana industrial area in the year 2000. Since the number of eligible units were more than those available, the government, it said, had to acquire land in the second phase to develop Bawana-II (Bhorgarh) industrial area to cater to the requirement of eligible units.

In this, the total area acquired for development of the Bawana industrial area is approximately 1,900 acres to be divided into 16,312 plots. Bawana-II (Bhorgarh) is approximately 600 acres which is to be carved into 4,660 plots.

In the report submitted by the committee to a bench of Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta, it said that 15,888 of illegal units till August this year had been closed. Now, the municipal corporations will have to identify rejected applicants who, instead of shutting shop have continued to operate illegally in residential areas. The mapping exercise is expected to be completed in two months. Once the non-permitted industries are identified, they will be sealed right away, the panel said in its report.

The ones that have been identified, at least 5,000 as reported, will find their electricity and water supply cut off by the authorities.

The committee constituted in 2004 is headed by the Chief Secretary and includes the commissioner of police, commissioners of municipal corporations and vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

Earlier this year, several traders had protested the sealing drive carried out by the municipal corporations. Even the Delhi government headed by the Aam Aadmi Party had then come out in support of the traders. But Delhi’s master plan of 2021-2041, demands that these industries, shops and restaurants which ply in non-conforming and residential areas should be removed.

The Delhi government, more recently, on October 17 faced flak from the National Green Tribunal for failing to take action against steel pickling units operating in non-conforming and residential areas.

Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Goel, fined the Delhi government with Rs 50 crore for these industries “cannot be tolerated”, and had to be “dealt with strongly”. In a scathing judgment, they said that they noticed the “repeated failure in handling of the issue and continuous violations of orders of this tribunal”.

It also asked the government to ensure the units were closed immediately and the chief secretary to constitute a three-member team to identify the people responsible for the violations, with a report within four months.

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