Small shift

Experts agree that the main inherent problem in the issue of the relocation of industries from Delhi is the failure of government officials to implement the relevant laws which prohibit setting up of such industries. But they add that the current litigation has not focused on this aspect. No responsibility has been fixed on any government official for negligence of duty, let alone indicting or punishing them. Said M C Mehta, "I think the court orders did mention about the failure of the government apparatus, but I can't say for sure. Certainly, no one was indicted."

Mehta agrees that the role of politicians and bureaucrats in letting things to come to such a pass needs to be investigated, and that his petition has not focused on this aspect. "But they are all hand in glove: the politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists. I personally feel that strict action should be initiated against all of them," he said. Asked whether he agrees that the battle is only half won, he observed, "It is not a question of half won or full won, nor is it an issue of courts alone. It is for the concerned citizens, Parliament, the Delhi assembly and the media to take the issue forward, and bring about accountability and transparency in the matter."

The fears of workers had worsened when earlier, the court ordered closure rather than compulsory relocation, as well as permitted industries to retain and trade 32 per cent of the land housing the units. Said swadesh Debroy of the Centre for Indian Trade Union, "We too feel that the primary responsibility for the mishandling of the issue lies with the government. In fact, we requested the court to allow us representation in the dispute as a third party, but the court did not agree." However, most labour leaders confessed doing an ostrich act by not assigning much thought to non-polluting standards all these years.