NEW DELHI: Once a residential area, Vishwas Nagar’s lanes today are lined with units dealing with dyes, chemicals, rubber, metal, asbestos, iron smelting, electrical accessories and automobile spare parts. A classic example of how industrial complexes have taken over residential spaces, this east Delhi colony will be in ferment from Monday when steps will be taken to seal many of the establishments.
The East Delhi Municipal Corporation issued 2,000 notices for sealing in Vishwas Nagar after the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee directed it on August 3 to conduct a survey there. “We have sent sealing notices under provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act to polluting factories, godowns and illegal units. The owners were given 48 hours to vacate the premises and shift their belongings. Sealing begins on Monday,” said BM Mishra, deputy commissioner, Shahdara south zone, east corporation.
The monitoring committee visited Vishwas Nagar, Ashok Market and Subhash Road with corporation officials on August 3 and found that the residential premises there were being used in contravention of land use norms in Master Plan Delhi 2021. It, therefore, instructed the deputy commissioner to ask the building department to take action to seal these after “following due process of law”. An action-taken report has to be submitted by August 14.
When TOI visited the spot, the lanes were crammed with cranes lifting heavy industrial material as commercial unit owners were vacating the residential buildings. The local residents claimed that these industries have existed for more than a decade without being pulled up by EDMC and they would have continued to operate if not for the Supreme Court’s directives. “In every lane of Vishwas Nagar, there are industrial units. Most of these contribute to pollution,” alleged BS Vohra, president, East Delhi RWAs Joint Front.
In 2017, the Environment Pollution Control Authority ordered Delhi government to take action against industrial units running in non-conforming areas. One of the main concerns was that allowing such units would result in water pollution due to the effluent they discharged into drains and air pollution due to the combustion of polluting fuels and materials like rubber.
In its judgment in the MC Mehta v Union of India case in 2004, the Supreme Court had directed that all industrial units that had come up in residential or non-conforming areas in Delhi on or after August 1, 1990 should stop operating according to a timeline within a year of the judgment. Even then, the judgment had cited a survey conducted by Delhi Pollution Control Committee in 1995-96 to say that “1,26,000 industrial units were functioning in Delhi, of which approximately 1,01,000 were in residential areas”.
Recently, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) sent the civic bodies a list of 51,000 industries operating from non-conforming areas across the city and directed them to conduct a survey and initiate their relocation to industrial areas. Of these, 10,023 were under the jurisdiction of the south corporation, 9,522 under the north corporation and 11,805 under EDMC.
Senior officials claimed that the data was being segregated on a zonal level, after which inspections will be carried out and appropriate action taken under provisions of the DMC Act.