Dr Manmohan Singh, Hon’ble PM

Sub: Closure of industries in Delhi – inertial unlawfulness in name of Supreme Court and in disregard of National Common Minimum Programme and numerous representations

Respected Sir,

I am writing to you as a Planner, to seek your intervention for protecting my right to participate in decisions about planned development. I have reiterated by due process (Public Notice) my suggestion, made since 2000, for enforcement of the statutory Master Plan solution for industries in Delhi, now for lawful compliance of Supreme Court judgment of 07.05.04, and sought public debate on any other plan for compliance. I seek this of you especially because of your address at the SSI convention on 30.08.041 and your address to the nation on 24.06.042, to thank you for which I had written the enclosed letter3, referring also to this matter.

Delhi Master Plan, revised in 1990, makes explicit provision for space for about one lakh predominantly SSI units. This has not been provided to them and, as a consequence, they have been functioning without benefit of planned development. In a case pertaining to hazardous, etc, units (not permissible in Delhi) Supreme Court also gave directions for other units to be located according to Plan. Government, however, chose to embark upon its own “alternatives” – developing an unviable industrial area of excessive concentration and simultaneously promising illegal regularization. Industries were confused and misled into believing there is no other option, even as the Plan earmarks for them 2000-3000 Ha in planned industrial development / redevelopment as well as in planned commercial / mixed use pockets dispersed across the city. This has gone on for four years (coincident with corruption at Plan minding levels in DDA, exposed by CBI in 2003). The Court comprehensively rejected regularization in its judgment of 07.05.04, unequivocally upholding the Plan and directing time-bound closure of units located in violation of it, while leaving ample scope for time-bound enforcement of statutory solutions.

Adoption of NCMP with clear commitments convergent with Delhi Master Plan, statutory framework for efficient equitable development of Delhi, raised hopes that Government would view the schedule set by the Court in the spirit of the judgment itself, besides as imperative of NCMP and law, as one for enforcing the statutory solution rather than as one for closure. However, in early August Delhi Assembly unanimously resolved in favour of regularization, though it did not initiate Plan amendment by due process (in any case, no more possible in the time-frame set by the Court). A month later, with closure deadline a week away, Government declared intent to approach the Court for time for “scientific survey” inclusive of “stakeholder views” to make a fresh case for regularization. This frivolous response to imminent closure of Delhi’s SSI sector was ironically reported, Sir, a day after your address at the SSI convention.

Further, Government did not even approach the Court, making its frivolous promise seem like a ploy to divert attention to industries, which took to the streets yesterday, perhaps forgetting that when they had done so in 2000 they had lost all sympathy and the Court had called them hooligans. Again media reports are suggesting that industries are unanimously seeking illegal regularization, whereas at least some are seeking incorporation by due process of law into the planned development framework and had also held a colloquium for lawful compliance on 22.08.04. Indeed, after the judgment, “unanimity” on regularization (merely suggested in a World Bank study of 2000) has been displayed only in Delhi Assembly resolution and its follow-up, possibly for ill-informed “populism” (ill-informed inasmuch as that as per Government’s own reckoning, quoted in the judgment, only 15000 units can benefit from this idea).

Also, Government’s “scientific survey” decision is nothing short of admittance of cluelessness. It is now doing “door-to-door surveys” to find units to shut, having already solicited, in full-page Notice in newspapers of 27.08.04, support of public at large for this. Perhaps this is what it calls “stakeholder views” (it certainly does not consider qualified planners “stakeholders” in planning solutions). One wonders about the basis on which Government (besides now treating industries at par with criminals) has been participating in problem-solving PIL and suggesting Master Plan amendments when it does not even have (despite mandatory provisions for Plan monitoring and for surveys for Plan revision that is on-going) a list of units that are violating the Master Plan.

Already beginning in this state of anarchy is closure of units that have been given no legal option to shift – for F-category the minimum plot size stipulated in Delhi Master Plan is 400 sqm whereas in Bawana the maximum plot size is 250 sqm. The Court had left it to Government to announce incentives for shifting in six weeks, but it has been announcing only deterrent promise of regularization, contrary to the judgment. In name of the Court it is “terrorizing” all units, even as the judgment unambiguously applies only to units in Plan areas where they are not permitted. It is also announcing plans to allow (non-industrial) misuse, which would make industrial closure malafide and is, in any case, contrary to the purpose of the judgment – restoring lawful planned development and amenity, not industrial closure just for its own sake.

Stout all-round denial for all these years of the existence of a statutory solution that Government is duty-bound to enforce has now become even more inexplicable with its inertial continuation regardless of the judgment, the NCMP, the mandate of the people. It is as though the weight of inertia outweighs the weight of a nation. The question that torments is whether one lakh industries will stop this inertial drift or fuel its momentum.

While it is no planner’s case that any Plan is perfect, it is every planner’s case that any Plan is better than hit-or-miss ideas, refinements to Plans must be made by due process of planning law, solutions settled in holistically considered statutory Plans must form the benchmark for assessing alternatives. To participate in planned development is privilege and responsibility of planners trained at public cost and right under statutory Public Notice requirements for Plan making and review. On the industries issue, in view of the judgment being based on Delhi Master Plan and of sustained engagements since 2000 (encl.2), what I have to say can be ignored only at cost of making claims of participation ring very untrue. Till such time as planning laws are officially repealed and schools of planning actually closed, I am bound by professional ethic to hold these views regardless of any other reality and so it is that I have suggested public debate on options for compliance of Supreme Court order for industries. I am prepared to defend the option of compliance through enforcement of the statutory Delhi Master Plan solution and if Government has a better plan, it should have no hesitation in accepting my suggestion. But it has not done so and the closure deadline has arrived. I seek, therefore, your intervention.

With apologies for any impropriety and in hope of a response,

Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma, Planner


  1. Letter of 25.06.04 (3p) 4
  2. Index page of NCMP-DMP Minder (Manufacturing section) on the web 5

 News reports, 09.09.2004678

  • 1. PM inaugurates SSI convention
    The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has said that the Government is contemplating to aid and support the small scale industries sector. He announced that a National Commission to examine the problems facing enterprises in the unorganized, informal sector would be set up. The Commission will have a comprehensive mandate to examine and review existing institutional mechanism for supporting small enterprises, he added. 

    http://www.pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=3578 (Retrieved 30th June, 2013)

  • 2. Prime Minister 's Address to the Nation, June 24, 2004
  • 3. Gratitude for references to planned development in your address to the nation
  • 4. Gratitude for references to planned development in your address to the nation
  • 5. Manufacturing, NCMP-DMPR
    Industries, denied DMP industrial space, are largely in non-industrial space. Supreme Court judgment of 07.05.2004 upholds DMP provisions and processes to direct their closure in 4 to 18 months. NCMP commitments for manufacturing, predicated upon survival of units, call for viewing closure deadlines as ones for enforcing DMP or better solutions.

  • 6. Govt orders door-to-door survey
    Daily Pioneer, 09.09.2004

    Staff Reporter/ New Delhi. The Delhi Government has ordered Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) to conduct door-to-door surveys and identify category f industries running in non-conforming areas. Meanwhile, thousands of factory owners on Wednesday went on indefinite strike against the Supreme Court's ruling. They claimed that their strike was successful.

    Speaking to The Pioneer, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the Delhi Government and the Union Urban Development & Poverty Alleviation Ministry are working to sort out the problems arising due to the Supreme Court's ruling to close all polluting industries in non-conforming areas in the Capital. Ms Dikshit said the Government has asked the UDM to amend the Master Plan for Delhi, which is the only solution to this problem.

    Delhi Manufacturers Federation (DMF) General Secretary Vijay Virmani claimed that 10 lakh factory workers participated in the strike in 70 constituencies in the city. "Despite several representations to the Government and its assurances, small manufacturing units are being forced to wind up. The federation is an umbrella body of 50 industrial associations. All the big assurances of a large number of leaders have borne no fruit. Under such circumstances, the federation has been compelled to declare indefinite industrial bandh, dharna and road blockades in Delhi," said Mr Virmani. He said the closing down of industrial units would affect 1.5 million workers directly and one million indirectly.

    Mr Virmani said factories and industrial units remained close in Shahzada Bagh Extension, Nangli Sakrawati, Mundka, Viswas Nagar, Khyala, Rithala, New Mandoli, Tikri Kalan, Sultanpur Majra, Prahladpur Bangar, Nawada, Kirti Nagar, Naresh Park Extension, Haiderpur, Dabri, Peera Garhi, Basai Darapur, Karawal Nagar Shalimar Bagh, Tri Nagar and other industrial areas.

    Congress MLAs Anil Bhardwaj, Mahabal Mishra, Bijender Singh and Mukesh Sharma also addressed the protest dharna. They claimed that despite the Delhi Legislative Assembly passing a resolution in July for amending the Master Plan to convert the areas with industry concentration of 70 per cent or above into regular industrial areas, the Government was going ahead with the closure. Meanwhile, Udyog Vyapar Mandal, another associations of factory owners, has submitted a memorandum to Ms Dikshit in this regard.

  • 7. Industrialists stage protest against closure
    Hindustan Times (with file photo of industries)

    HT Correspondent, New Delhi, September 9. Industrialists and entrepreneurs operating from non-conforming or residential areas staged protest on Wednesday against closure of their businesses and have decided to go on an indefinate strike from today.

    In the first phase 5,000 industries falling in F category, will be closed in a month’s time. In the second phase, to start from October 8, about 30,000 remaining industries will be closed.

    The industrialists are peeved at the government for not providing any relief following a Supreme Court order on May 7 for them to shut shop. Though chief minister Sheila Dikshit along with officials and ministers met union urban development minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last week on the issue, no tangible solution could be found.

    Enforcement teams of the Delhi government, officials of the Factory Licensing Department of the MCD and the area power distribution company visited the area to ensure these industries were closed.

    DJB and officials of the department of industry conducted door -to-door survey in several residential areas.

    Though the apex court has ordered that disconnection of power and water supply should begin, from September 8, officials said that they were undertaking a survey before disconnecting the supplies.

    "Units which existed before August 1, 1990 would be exempted," said an official involved with the closure operation. Industry minister Mangat Ram said the orders of the court would be implemented before the cut-off date.

    The enforcement teams swooped in areas like Vishwas Nagar, Tri Nagar, Rithala, Khyala, Mundka, amongst others to find out whether they existed prior to the cut off date.

  • 8. Manufacturers oppose Delhi Govt’s deadline, Express Newsline

    ENS & PTI, New Delhi, September 8: The Delhi Manufacturers Federation began an indefinite strike today, organising dharnas and blocking the road at several areas across the Capital.

    The federation, an umbrella body of over 50 industrial associations in the Capital, is protesting the Delhi government’s decision to wind up all industries in non-conforming areas. It said it will continue the strike until the government takes appropriate action.

    The strike affected seventy localities, including Vishwas Nagar, Shahdara, Mahipalpur, Silampur and Pitampura. Between 5-10,000 people were present at each spot where the dharna was organised, while 20,000 people participated in the dharna at Vishwas Nagar.

    "The closure of these industries in non-conforming areas will mean that 20-25 lakh people will go jobless," said Vijay Virmani, general secretary of the Delhi Manufacturers Federation. The closure will also affect other workers, including those who pull rickshaws and drive the tempos used to transport raw materials, he added.

    ‘‘There was a resolution by the Delhi government in 1999 that an area with more than70 per cent industries will be declared an industrial area, but now the government has betrayed us,’’ said G.K. Sethi, secretary of the Federation. "Since 1999, several committees were formed by the government to look into the matter — including the World Bank team funded by Japan, who inspected it and gave the green signal. But even after their own committees’ inspection and approval, the government is not abiding with it," added Sethi.

    “Delhi Assembly passed a resolution in July for declaring areas with more than 70 per cent manufacturing units as industrial zones. But the government is now dilly-dallying and industries continue to be forced to close down,” said Joginder Talwar, secretary of the Delhi Manufacturers Federation.

    He said the manufacturers were also not happy with the facilities provided to them in the industrial areas they were being shifted to.

    Talwar claimed that while there were 1.5 lakh non-conforming units in the city, there were only 16,000 plots available. He said the manufacturers would go on an hunger strike if their demands were not met.

    "We are on an indefinite strike and will become harsher with each passing day, until the government gives a positive response," said Sethi. "Sheila Dixit doesn’t know what she is doing," he added.