NADIR Shahs raiders sacked Delhi in 1739. Brutish British soldiery ravaged Delhi in 1857. The citys (and the countrys) smug and self-indulgent elite is now mindlessly engaged in the third sack of Delhi. Urban prettification, pollution control and consumerist greed are regarded as sufficient grounds to ruin the economic production base of a city of 14 million enterprising citizens. The economic life-blood of millions of workers and small businessmen is sought to be drained out by a self-seeking class of bureaucrats, professionals and politicians who have embraced the combined thrust of the World Trade Organisations (wto) dictatorial commercial regime, the Supreme Courts insensitive fatwas and the ministry of urban developments bulldozer tactics.
Thousands of factories, especially small enterprises, countrywide have already closed down due to cheap, subsidised, foreign goods being dumped on India ever since the government surrendered on April 1, 2000, to the new wto-supervised trade regime. The recent sealing of yet more factories in Delhi on grounds of pollution control was the final straw for workers and owners. Starvation is apparently being sponsored by the authorities as a substitute for pollution. So, it is no surprise that the threatened worker-owners, many of whom operate their tiny industrial enterprises from within their homes, took to the streets recently in a mass display of anger and despair. They earned a temporary reprieve with the central governments relaxation of The Master Plan to banish factories from so-called residential areas. Of Delhis 1,40,000 industrial units, only 22,000 are in the officially designated industrial zones. The remaining 1,18,000 units are in tightly compounded colonies where one cant distinguish between workplaces and homes. Insufficient land, lack of basic infrastructure and no provision for financial loans have already made a farce of attempts to relocate polluting factories to the outlying areas of Bawana, Narela, Jhilmil and Patparganj.