Master plan for anarchy
onD ecember 7, 2000, the Supreme Court set a one month deadline for closure of all polluting industrial units in residential and non-conforming areas of Delhi. The Union ministry for urban development with the help of other bodies and the Delhi government was given the responsibility of implementing the order. The court order is undoubtedly well-intended, but the behaviour of our political class leaves the common citizen with ample doubts on whether Delhi’s environment will actually see the much-needed improvement in the near future. Lack of data on the polluting units coupled with the lack of political will may in fact dilute the verdict. Besides, rampant corruption threatens to make matters worse.
S K Bawa, proprietor of Paramhans Electroplating in Vishwas Nagar locality of east Delhi, is one among the thousands caught in this labyrinth. While showing his effluent treatment plant ( etp ) to Down To Earth, he confidently said, “I have a no-objection certificate from the Delhi Pollution Control Authority ( dpcc ). I do not pollute anymore. I have been allotted a plot in Bawana. I have done all that the authorities asked me to. Why will they seal my unit?” A while later, he stood non-plussed in front of his sealed factory. The area sub-divisional magistrate, armed with the court and Municipal Corporation of Delhi ( mcd) order in his hands, had sealed his unit in a matter of minutes. He is just one of the victims of the knee-jerk reactions of the ‘authorised bodies’ to the sc order. It was déjà vu for Bawa, who’s unit had been sealed by the sc once before in January 2000. “I spent nearly Rs one lakh to install an etp, get it certified, pay guarantees to dpcc and get it de-sealed ,” he complained . “ If they had plans to seal my unit why did they ask me to spend so much money on the factory?” Exasperated Bawa rightfully blamed the politicians, the government and the powers that be for duping him. He acknowledges he does not understand the finer nuances of the case. But how many people do in any case?
Many such stories rented Delhi’s air after the verdict. Of the likes of Bawa crying fowl. Of government bodies at loggerheads with each other. Of those who kicked and those who got kicked. Of laws made by the policymakers and least understood by those responsible for its implementation. Of K K Venugopal, counsel for chief secretary of the Delhi government P S Bhatnagar, saying that sc never told Bhatnagar how the latter had not done what was required of him by law. And that of a panic-stricken S P Aggarwal, ommissioner of mcd, ordering the sealing of all units