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Environmentalist MC Mehta
"The workers are not at fault"
 real 28k

Industry representative SS Agarwal
"We are also against pollution"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 13:09 GMT
Delhi pollution drive falters
Delhi anti-pollution protest
The protests led to widespread violence and disruption
A plan to close down polluting industrial units in the Indian capital is being reconsidered after violent street protests.

The Indian Government said it would make changes to allow some of the units to continue operating.


There is a deep nexus between the bureaucrats, the politicians and the industrialists

Environmentalist MC Mehta
It follows two days of protests in Delhi, in which three people were killed amid widespread disruption.

Factory owners and workers clashed with the police, saying the order would lead to job losses.

India's Supreme Court ordered the closure of over 100,000 industrial units which were operating out of residential areas, saying they were responsible for rising air and water pollution in Delhi.

Changes to Master Plan

Urban Development Minister, Jagmohan, told parliament that new legislation would be passed to redefine small -scale industrial units.

Some units could then be allowed to stay in the residential areas if they met stringent anti-pollution standards.

"These norms pertain to the number of persons who can work in a household industries, the power that can be sanctioned and the area that can be used," Mr Jagmohan said.

Delhi police with pollution masks
Alarm over rising air pollution in Delhi
Newspaper reports say the government would amend a Delhi Master Plan to allow units which employed less than 10 people to operate in residential areas.

Factory owners argue that many of the units were set up long before people built homes in the areas.

"These small units should be allowed to remain and the help of technology should be taken to prevent pollution," SS Agarwal of the Indian Small Industries Federation told the BBC's World Today programme.

'Nexus'

But environmentalists say the factory owners were at fault and were inciting the workers to create trouble.

"The Supreme Court delivered its judgement in 1996. The Government of Delhi had four years [to rehabilitate the units]," environmentalist MC Mehta told the BBC.

"There is a deep nexus between the bureaucrats, the politicians and the industrialists.... They do not want to see the industries closed down," he said.

On Wednesday, the streets of Delhi were reported to be calm after the violent protests in the past two days.

"The schools are still closed and buses are off the roads... but the situation is normal," a police spokesman was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Delhi has a population of 12 million and is said to be one of the most polluted cities in the world with one of the highest concentrations of vehicles in India.

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See also:

21 Nov 00 | South Asia
Delhi pollution protest spreads
24 Jan 00 | South Asia
Pollution ban on Delhi factories
17 Dec 99 | South Asia
Taj nights face legal challenge
23 Sep 99 | South Asia
Traffic noise sending police deaf
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