Wednesday, November 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SC rejects Delhi Govt’s plea
Agitators block traffic; death toll 3
From Syed Ali Ahmed

NEW DELHI, Nov 21 — The agitation by the industrial workers continued today with the police lobbing tear-gas shells to control the situation in different parts of the Capital even as the Delhi government moved the Supreme Court to seek permission to go slow in shifting polluting industries from the non-conforming areas.

The apex court, however, declined the request of the state government and directed the Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government to appear before it in person for not complying with the orders passed in 1996.

An irate three-judge Bench headed by Mr Justice B. N. Kirpal categorically told the Delhi Government that the health of the people was more important than life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Bench, which also comprised Mr Justice Santosh Hegde and Mr Justice Brajesh Kumar, said the situation was created by the Delhi Government which had disobeyed an order of the court in 1996.

The judges told government counsel K.K. Venugopal that the matter would be heard on November 28 when the contempt of court notice issued to the Chief Secretary and the Municipal Commissioner comes up for further hearing.

Meanwhile, schools managed by the government and private organisations had been ordered by the Delhi Government to be closed for two days due to the non-availability of public transport buses. The traffic was held up in some parts of the Capital by the agitating workers which hit normal life for the second day today.

Traffic was disrupted on Pankha Road in Janakpuri in West Delhi, Badarpur in South Delhi and in some parts of the trans-Yamuna area which was the hub of yesterday’s agitation led by the Laghu Udyog Sangharsh Samiti.

To control the situation, police personnel were deployed in sufficient strength, besides four companies of the Rapid Action Force.

The police lobbed tear-gas shells in Badarpur and in some other areas to disrupt the agitating workers.

The agitators blocked traffic in Seelampur in north-east, Prahladpur in north-west, Mundka and Dabri in south-west and Gandhi Nagar in East districts resulting in traffic jams.

The police said Bhikuram Aggarwal sustained serious injuries when he was crushed under a postal van whom workers tried to burn. He was admitted to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

In another incident, Ajaib Singh, who was injured in a crossfire with the police yesterday in the Maujpur area, died in GTB hospital. A PTI report has put the death toll at three.

Four others who were injured in crossfire with the police were admitted to the GTB hospital. There condition is stated to be out of danger.

The Delhi Police Commissioner, Mr Ajai Raj Sharma, said no large-scale violence had been reported today. Reports of minor stone-pelting incidents were received from some areas.

Mr Sharma said besides 40 companies of the Delhi Armed Force, four companies of the Rapid Action Force had been deployed in north-east and north-west Delhi and two more companies would be provided today.

The general secretary of the Laghu Udyog Sangharsh Samiti, Mr J.N. Joshi, said workers would meet the Prime Minister and the President to apprise them of their problems and to pressurise the government to change the master plan of the Capital to suit small scale industries in non-conforming areas.

The legal adviser of the Laghu Udyog Bharti, Mr B.B. Gupta, said a dharna would be held outside the SC on November 28 when the court would hear the case of closure of industrial units in non-conforming areas. The owners would also consider sitting on an indefinite dharna and hunger strike if their units were sealed, he said.

TNS adds: The issue of industrial unrest leading to riots in the Capital for the past two days came up in the Rajya Sabha today with angry Opposition members demanding proper rehabilitation measures for the industrial workers whose units have been ordered to be shifted to the outskirts of Delhi.

The Opposition members were on their feet immediately after the House met this morning with the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Manmohan Singh, pointing out that it was the responsibility of the Central Government to initiate measures to alleviate problems of the workers while taking care of the environment.

Dr Manmohan Singh said while the House respected the decision of the Supreme Court to shift the industrial units, it was the government’s responsibility to tackle the issue which was becoming a serious law and order problem.

The Chairman, Mr Krishan Kant, intervened and said the “government should respond and we should provide time for discussing this very important problem”. He was however, categorical that question hour would not be suspended for the discussion.

Responding to the issue raised by the Opposition members, the Leader of the House, Mr Jaswant Singh, said the Home Minister would be making a statement in the House sometime later in the day and it may have to be coordinated if it comes up in the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Environment and Forests Minister T.R. Baalu said as many as 96,000 industries were located in residential areas in Delhi, of which only 683 had installed effluent treatment plants.

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