Been in business since ‘70s, have updated methods, say traders
On the first floor of a four-storey house in Karol Bagh, five artisans sat on the floor, hunched over a wooden bench, engrossed in their work — while some were assembling the unfinished jewellery, others were engaged in soldering them.
“We have been in business since the 1970s. The number of such units have multiplied since,” said Badal Mondal, owner of jewellery unit. “We have updated our methods and there is no chance of pollution.”
But of late, the area has come under the lens of pollution watchdog with residents pointing to increasing pollution as these units multiplied.
“I have grown up in this area and have been seeing the way the units have grown over the years,” said 40-year-old advocate Kunal, who goes by only one name. “It has been years that residents, in particular, the elderly, have been complaining of whiffs of acid in the air resulting in respiratory problems. The units are also ticking time-bombs with no fire exits and the use of LPG cylinders.”
Kunal filed a plea regarding these units in Beadon Pura area in the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
For traders, the state pollution watchdog’s order to shut polluting units comes on the back of last year’s sealing of illegal units on the orders of a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee. At least 85 units were shut in that drive. “It has been a rough year,” said Hait who owns a unit here. “Business is down by half already.”
He says that business have been going green and that the only polluting activity they had was disposing of effluents during polishing, for which they have installed machines costing ₹2 lakh each. “And now that we have machines to handle even that, they (government) should not come after us,” he said.
While around 100-150 shops that are running from the ground floor have been issued licenses from the municipal corporation, the others on the upper floors are yet to get them, said traders.
“We had met with the north corporation recently over the looming threat of closure. He assured us that the units operating from upper floors too could apply for trade licenses soon. He told us that once the elections are over, the proposal for the same will be moved in the Standing Committee,” said Bivash Chandra Maity, general secretary of the Delhi Swarnakar Sangha.