Artisans at work at a small unit that handles gold and silver ornamental work in Regar Pura in Karol Bagh, in New Delhi(Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)
Artisans at work at a small unit that handles gold and silver ornamental work in Regar Pura in Karol Bagh, in New Delhi(Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)

Karol Bagh jewellery units face closure over pollution concerns

The area, according to local traders, has around 5,000 such units with over 20,000 employees. However, shops here have been under the lens of the government watchdog after complaints from people in the area of the alleged polluting nature of the work there.
By Joydeep Thakur and Vatsala Shrangi | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 19, 2019 07:27 AM IST

The small jewellery units located in the lanes and by-lanes of Karol Bagh’s Beadon Pura, where many Delhiites still throng regularly to get their gold and silver ornaments repaired or for a complete makeover, could soon face closure.

The area, according to local traders, has around 5,000 such units with over 20,000 employees. However, shops here have been under the lens of the government watchdog after complaints from people in the area of the alleged polluting nature of the work there.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), in a letter dated May 9, directed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to “close down shut down all the units / shops engaged in the activity of cleaning and washing gold and silver in an ‘unscientific manner’ operating in Beadon Pura, Karol Bagh”. HT has a copy of the letter. It, however, does not give details of these “unscientific” methods.

While senior officials of the DPCC confirmed that the letter was sent to the north Delhi civic body, they refused to divulge any further details. Even Imran Hussain, Delhi environment minister refused to comment.

The letter states that DPCC had carried out an inspection on March 1, following an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The inspection, it read, found that these units were engaged in assembling unfinished small gold and silver ornaments after washing, cleaning and soldering them to give them a complete makeover.

While the shops were located on the ground floor, most of the units where the cleaning, washing and soldering were being done were located on the first, second, third and fourth floors of buildings.

“We will follow the directions. It is yet to be ascertained as to how many such units are operating in the said area. The survey is in progress,” said a senior official of the north municipal corporation, who didn’t wish to be named.

The letter, however, came as a shock for the traders who said that around 85 units had already been sealed in May 2018 and in December 2018 in Beadon Pura. Traders said that at least 5,000 such units operate in the streets of Beadon Pura and Regar Pura in Karol Bagh. More than 20,000 artisans work in these units.

“We have the permission of working out from homes engaging four-to five labourers and LPG cylinders. Only washing and polishing of the metals using acid would cause some degree of pollution. But it has been a year that we all have got machines that does not let the fume out and dilutes it in water, which is later drained,” said Rabindranath Hait, president, Delhi Swarnakar Sangha , Karol Bagh.

The artisans and traders also said that they have sent a letter to the union environment minister Harsh Vardhan in February, 2019 seeking relief. The union minister could not be reached for comment.

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