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Tuesday, December 19, 2000

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Enforcement teams get mixed reception

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, DEC. 18. It is 11 a.m on Monday. One of the over 40- odd enforcement teams of the State Government accompanied by some police personnel enters Gali No. 2 of Narang Colony in Tri Nagar area of North-West Delhi.

As the team, led by an SDM, moves inside this narrow deserted lane -- otherwise bustling with industrial activity -- in this North-West Delhi neighbourhood, scared residents watching quietly from the balconies wait for their next move. The team stops before the shutter of House No. 3529 B, and orders its sealing.

A couple of minutes later, the former Industries Minister, Mr. H. S. Balli, arrives at the scene and is soon surrounded by the residents, who allege that no such polluting industry was operating from here. Mr. Balli orders breaking of the seal. Shutters are up the next minute and a camel-coloured Santro is revealed inside.

Mr. Balli moves ahead to the other lane and a few more seals are broken. He argues with the SDMs every time they seal a unit. The same is the case with other elected representatives camping in the area since early Monday morning. Not to be left behind, the BJP MPs -- Mr. Madan Lal Khurana and Mr. Sahib Singh Verma -- too make their symbolic appearance but leave the scene as quickly as they enter.

With least co-operation from residents, who at best ended up confusing the enforcement teams, their task becomes all the more difficult. ``I have been able to seal only one unit in two hours,'' said an SDM.

What added to the chaos was the reported last minute change in the list of polluting industries to be sealed in the first phase. While this was reduced from 81 to 27 creating widespread confusion, the exclusion of PVC products from the list added to the chaos.

Probably because the SDMs were not briefed well or could not understand the technical difference between PVC products and plastics, many units were overlooked while at times those not to be included in the first phase were sealed. And every time a footwear or a plastic mould industry was sealed, there was opposition from local politicians who managed to arrive right on time, courtsey the mobile phone. ``At the end of the day, we do not expect many industries to be sealed in this phase,'' asserted Mr. Atma Ram Gupta, Councillor.

If the first couple of hours of the much-hyped about sealing operation was any indication, not much progress was made as regards closure of polluting industries from the non-conforming areas under the Supreme Court orders.

According to the area MLA, Mr. Nand Kishore Garg, a significantly large number of owners had shifted their machinery and equipment overnight fearing sealing. ``People are now willing to shift. But they should be given proper alternatives and adequate time,'' he said. ``When the Government keeps on changing the list at the very last minute, it is but natural for a fear psychosis to grip the residents.''

As a result, all local politicians could be seen camping at the Keshav Puram police station from early morning along with their supporters to get an exact picture of what was in the offing.

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