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Abattoir politics far from over yet

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, OCT. 4. Political pulls and counter-pulls over slaughter house location have not only divided the Delhi Cabinet but are now set to create fissures within the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).

Playing the East Delhi politics card to the fore, the Delhi Finance Minister, A.K. Walia, is adamant over not allowing the proposed new abattoir to come up at Ghazipur and has reportedly once again suggested another alternative site at the Bhalaswa Jehangirpuri landfill site.

It is learnt that the matter of slaughter house relocation came up informally at the Delhi Cabinet meeting on Monday. Dr. Walia also submitted the report of the Cabinet sub-committee where he had suggested the location of the slaughter house near the Millennium Park behind Delhi Zoo.

It is learnt that the site was found feasible but the authorities were apprehensive of a backlash from the environmentalists. What has been most shocking is that despite clear directions of the Supreme Court to relocate the abattoir within the six-month deadline that expires in January 2005, every effort is being made by certain vested interests to thwart the court orders in the name of public opinion.

It is understood that Dr. Walia today came up with the idea of examining the Bhalaswa Jehangirpuri landfill site. It was pointed out that there was more than adequate land at Bhalaswa site, which would suffice for the abattoir.

"It is amazing that a person like the Finance Minister is falling into populist trap. It is a clear attempt to woo a large constituency of electorate in East Delhi with an eye on the future. Being an open-minded person, he knows that the modern abattoir was one of the best but he refuses to explain this concept to the people for some strange reason,'' a senior official remarked.

What is even more shocking is that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Chief Minister, Nasib Singh, has been in the forefront of the opposition to the abattoir along with the East Delhi Member of Parliament, Sandeep Dikshit.

The Sheila Dikshit Government has been caught in a strange situation wherein the ruling establishment is being challenged by its own partymen and those holding positions in the Government rather that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. Strangely, leading this pack is Dr. Walia who could face the wrath of the court for these delaying tactics.

Officials point out that even if a new site were identified, permission would have to be sought from the Apex Court before going ahead with any relocation plan.

It is no secret that the Cabinet colleagues of Dr. Walia have opposed any move to undermine the court orders and want the Government to draw up a holistic approach to the whole issue.

As for the new site at Bhalaswa Jehangirpuri, the Government could run into serious trouble with the local politicians and ruling party MLAs of the area. The original plan for the landfill site at Bhalaswa is to construct a huge green area with a big park for the local population.

Under the law, the authorities cannot construct anything on the landfill site for 20 years but the Supreme Court had made a special exception in case of Ghazipur site.

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