Information relating to unauthorized industrial activity in a residential area of Delhi in violation of SC order - CIC urged that an action be taken soon to put an end to such illegal activity; provide the current status along with an Action Taken Report
The appellant sought information regarding action taken in respect of several illegal industrial units in operation in Vishwas Nagar, in violation of Supreme Court’s directions dt. 07.05.2004.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both the parties are present.
The appellant filed an RTI application on 29.04.2013 seeking the above information. The PIO/Supdt./FL in his reply stated that action as per DMC has been taken by prosecuting the industrial unit and electric/water connection has also been taken. He also informed the appellant that a list of 161 industrial units has been sent to the Shahdara South Zone office for further action. The FAA in his order recorded that the appellant enquired as to how many factories have been challaned out of the 161 units, the respondent stated that 20 challans have been made and letter for disconnection of electricity and water will be issued. The appellant stated that he is seeking the latest status of properties. The respondent stated that as on date, 70 challans have been issued and 67 units out of the 70 units challaned, have been sent notices for disconnection of electricity and water. The appellant referred to a notice/note dt. 24.09.2008. The appellant stated that the residents in the surrounding area are suffering from the pollution in the area and that the industrial activities carried out have thumping vibrations which are causing life threatening diseases to the residents and buildings have developed cracks.
On query by the Commission whether these factories/industrial units have been established with license, the respondent stated that they have been established without license. The appellant stated that the 790 industries that have been inspected under the Supreme Court directions have already been allotted plots for re-location. The appellant, further, stated that several RTI applications have been filed and the respondent authority has assured many a times that action will be taken, but no action has been taken till date.
The appellant stated that the Supreme Court had passed directions on May 7, 2004, for closure of all industrial units in non-conforming areas stating that all units that had come up after August 1, 1990, be shut down. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee had stated that the number of such units was around one lakh. The Court had, then, asked that all units should be sealed by November 2004 and those who do not close down should be sealed. On query by the Commission as to what exactly is the current status, the respondent failed to provide any answer. The respondent stated that some of the information might have been in the office of the Asst. Commissioner/Shahdara South Zone, therefore, the RTI application was also transferred to them so that they can provide a reply directly to the appellant on points pertaining to their dept.
Information sought relates to unauthorized industrial activity in Delhi in a residential/non-conforming area. The important issue here is about the continued unauthorised use of the residential/non-conforming area contrary to laws in force. The Supreme Court direction dt. 07.05.2004 has clearly laid out the plan of action in this regard. The appellant has questioned the implementation of the said directions and the respondents have miserably failed to answer the same. An issue of public health and safety has been dealt with utmost disregard.
The Supreme Court in its Constitutional Bench in Oleum Gas Leak Case [(1987) 1 SCC 395] observed,
“We are of the view that an enterprise which is engaged in a hazardous or inherently dangerous industry which poses a potential threat to the health and safety of the persons working in the factory and residing in the surrounding areas owes an absolute and non-delegable duty to the community to ensure that no harm results to anyone on account of hazardous or inherently dangerous nature of the activity which it has undertaken. The enterprise must be held to be under an obligation to provide that the hazardous or inherently dangerous activity in which it is engaged must be conducted with the highest standards of safety and if any harm results on account of such activity, the enterprise must be absolutely liable to compensate for such harm and it should be no answer to the enterprise to say that it had taken all reasonable care and that the harm occurred without any negligence on its part. Since the persons harmed on account of the hazardous or inherently dangerous activity carried on by the enterprise would not be in a position to isolate the process of operation from the hazardous preparation of substance or any other related element that caused the harm must be held strictly liable for causing such harm as a part of the social cost for carrying on the hazardous or inherently dangerous activity. If the enterprise is permit- ted to carry on an hazardous or inherently dangerous activity for its profit, the law must presume that such permission is conditional on the enterprise absorbing the cost of any accident arising on account of such hazardous or inherently dangerous activity as an appropriate item of its over-heads. Such hazardous or inherently dangerous activity for private profit can be tolerated only on condition that the enterprise engaged in such hazardous or inherently dangerous activity indemnifies all those who suffer on account of the carrying on of such hazardous or inherently dangerous activity regardless of whether it is carried on carefully or not.”
A strict action against these unauthorised industrial units in residential/nonconfirming area of Vishwas Nagar is the need of the hour and the Commission urges that an action be taken soon to put an end to such illegal activity.
In view of the above, the Commission directs PIO/Factory Licensing Dept., Shahdara South Zone to provide the current status, as sought in the RTI application dt. 29.04.2013 on Points 2 & 3, along with an Action Taken Report, to the appellant, within three weeks of receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Shri Vijay Kumar v. East Delhi Municipal Corp., Delhi in F.No.CIC/DS/A/2013/001936-YA