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The Delhi High Court decided to take suo motu action against the government of NCT Delhi for allowing industries to grow illegally within west Delhi’s residential area of Karawal Nagar, which has led to cancer spreading in the area.  The case is being heard by the bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar.

On May 25, the bench rejected the administration’s plea that it will take action and ordered a CBI inquiry.

The counsel for the government of NCT Delhi started by arguing: “We have sealed the industries in the area.’

The bench asked: “How can you allow industries in residential areas? This has to stop. We will call the CBI to conduct the enquiry. As a result of the sealing how many people are being affected?”

The respondent said: “We have sealed the building.”

The bench probed further: “How many workers are on the road and rendered homeless due to this action? What is the number of units sealed and what is the source of livelihood for those people who got affected? If you had conducted your jobs properly and shut those industries at the first stage, nobody would have got hurt. This is how you spend public money doing enquires which have no effect. Due to these industries and the pollution it causes, people have died in the area and it is a highly crowded area.”

The respondent said that he will submit the report of the SDM to show how many people have been affected.

The bench observed: “This issue came up in a 2004 judgment in the MC Mehta case where the Supreme Court had directed that all industrial units that had come up in residential areas in Delhi after 1990 should close down and stop operating.

“But nothing has happened. How are you ever going to treat the sewage from the Yamuna? You are not looking at the health of the people. According to a Times of India report this May, one person has died and ten are about to die due to the cancer. Do you know how much it costs to treat cancer? This is strict violation of Article 21,” the bench observed.

The court did not aver from rebuking the top people in the administration. “Does the chief secretary need the court’s order to do his job properly? The SC began monitoring in 1986 on all these industries.”

The respondent’s refrain was the same: “All the industries have been sealed.”

The bench also observed that the “licensing authorities gave the wrong licence.”

When the counsel for the respondent said: “We will take action; we have in house enquiry,” the bench rejected this request. “We will see how CBI enquires into the matter now,” it said.

The bench commented: “We are deeply concerned about a polluting industry sitting in a residential area. The Supreme Court had passed a direction in July 1996 for development of these industries in another area. The court had knowledge about the people who were engaged in the industry… The court has directed those industries to shift to another area. Unfortunately, according to the development of the National Capital Region Act 1885, none of the authorities has taken the step to redevelop or change the industry.

“Pollution continues to grow, affecting the citizens, and now we are faced with a situation where death is happening due to it. Steps taken for the development of national capital region are not effective.

“In this case there is report of a person who has died of cancer, because of pollution. There is a vital need for development of the NCR.

“The Delhi Police is not in position to assist the court in the effective investigation in this mater. That is why we direct this matter to the CBI and Director of CBI to investigate into the unauthorised commercial activity in Shiv Vihar.

India Legal Bureau

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