Living under the shadow of sealing in west Delhi’s Mayapuri

Three months ago, the sealing of five automobile scrap units in west Delhi’s Mayapuri Industrial Area Phase-II had sparked ‘violent’ protests in the area.

Almost 90 days after the drive, traders say business in the area is ‘dead’ and wonder what pollution control norms they should follow in order to operate “legally and without fear”.

The sealing drive on April 13, carried out on the orders of Delhi Pollution Control Committee, has broken the backbone of businesses operating out of Mayapuri Industrial Area, traders said.

Since the April sealing drive, around 41 factories involved in printing, electroplating, galvanising, phosphating and dyeing, among others, have been shut by the government.

Gurvinder Kumar Cuckoo, general secretary Old Motor and Machinery Parts Dealers Association said, “The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) relocated us to its authorised industrial market, Mayapuri, from places like Motia Khan, Paharganj and Turkman Gate in 1975. For decades, we have been buying old and defunct cars, trucks and even military tanks and aircraft during auctions by the Army, Railways, municipalities and other agencies and selling the recycled iron to industries that can make use of them.”

At that time, he added, they were given just 22 to 50 square yards of land by the authorities. There was no proper infrastructure, no extra space to store scrappage, no roads or sewerage facility or guidelines on what machines could be used for pollution control, he added.

“When we devised our own methods and started using gas cutters, DPCC suddenly swooped in and sealed our units saying it is illegal. We still have no clarity on what is permissible and what is not,” Gurvinder complained.

After the Mayapuri Iron Merchants Welfare Association filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against the DPCC on April 14, the court ruled that “no coercive action should be taken against the shopkeepers” and “no fine imposed.” The DPCC had levied a fine of ₹1 lakh on the traders as Environmental Damage Compensation (EDC).

Anhad Singh, a scrap unit owner whose shop was sealed said, “Thanks to the high court order, our shops are open but we are unable to function. We have to sprawl out our wares on the roads. It leads to encroachment, but it is a necessity for us and not done out of choice. For such industrial activity, massive space is required which DDA did not think about.”

“About 700 tonnes of our material has been taken away by the local municipality and at least 12,500 labourers are out of work. Is this what the agencies wanted?” he asked.

Factories engaged in activities other than scrapping, which was sealed by DPCC for running without “consent to operate” certificates, were also suffering losses.

“We feel the DPCC should have been more proactive in telling us what permissions and certificates needs to be obtained,” said Neeraj Sehgal, general secretary, Mayapuri Industrial Welfare Association.

“When we ask DPCC officers for help, they merely tell us that they are a regulatory body and not advisory agency for traders,” said Dilip Singh Sahi, president of the association.

DPCC officers, however, said it is the responsibility of traders to know what norms to follow. “Around 38 units, have applied for permission to get consent to operate and paid a fine of ₹3.3crore . We have levied a total fine of ₹3.74 crore. We are processing the applications and these could be de-sealed in a month’s time,” he said.

First Published:
Jul 11, 2019 06:00 IST

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