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Crackdown on hazardous industries ordered

By Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI, JULY 5. The Delhi Government has decided to crack down on hazardous waste-generating industrial units in the Capital. Under the plan, the Government over the next 24 hours would seal 1,777 such units. Orders have already been issued to disconnect water and power supply to such units.

The decision to seal these units was taken after a two-member Supreme Court Monitoring Committee surveyed some of them and came up with an adverse report on their failure to take adequate safeguards against environmental hazards. The Committee, comprising Tapan Chakarvatry and Claude Alvares, had carried out the survey on July 1 and was unhappy over the manner in which the hazardous waste was being dumped by these industries and their failure to take adequate precautions.

The Delhi Cabinet, headed by the Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, today discussed the matter at length following which a decision was taken to make all efforts to comply with the orders of the Supreme Court. The sealing would take place under the supervision of the concerned sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs).

At present, the authorities have identified 1,777 industrial units producing hazardous waste. These units are located in the Wazirpur, Nangloi and Mangolpuri industrial areas. Although, 1,100 of them have already applied for alternate plots, but it would not be possible for them to function in the present circumstances as no site exists for dumping of this waste.

Interestingly, these units were issued sealing notices some time ago, but no alternative could be found for their relocation. Officials maintained that the problem was not of relocation but where to dump the hazardous waste as no site exists in the Capital. Some time ago, the Lieutenant-Governor had suggested that a temporary site be created in Wazirpur for dumping of such waste but the idea was given up as it was not found to be unfeasible as the area fell near residential premises.

Officials said the sudden turnaround by Haryana aggravated the problem. They explained that Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana had some time back agreed to have a common dumping site for such hazardous waste. After a lot of discussions, Haryana agreed to provide such a site at Faridabad but backed out later, leaving the units in the Capital high and dry. "The Delhi Government has no other alternative but to close down these units within the next 24 hours. The Supreme Court orders need to be complied with, particularly in view of the adverse report of the Monitoring Committee lest the Government wants to invite the wrath of the court,'' another official remarked.

On the other hand, the Government is also racing against time to comply with the Supreme Court's orders to close down illegal industrial units in the non-conforming areas of the Capital. The Court had asked the authorities to file a status report on the issue by August 31, outlining the action taken by the Government.

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