The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has ordered the closure of 112 stainless steel 'pickling' units in the Wazirpur Industrial area with immediate effect after they were found releasing untreated acidic discharge into sewers which eventually drain into the River Jamuna.
"These units were violating environment regulations. The steel pickling units were functioning illegally, causing soil and water pollution and also clogging the drainage in the area. Eventually, they pollute the Yamuna," a senior DPCC official said.
With about 2,000 industrial units, Wazirpur Industrial Area has been in the news for flouting pollution norms. DPCC had been writing to the industrial units and to Delhi Jal Board (DJB) since March to check the problem but received no response.
Pickling is a process of surface treatment to remove impurities such as stains or inorganic contaminants from the metal. In the steel pickling process, an acidic solution called 'pickle liquor' is used to remove surface impurities from metals for cleaning them.
The DPCC has ordered the Delhi Jal Board and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd to cut water and power supply to these units with immediate effect. It has also directed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to cancel their factory licences and asked the sub-divisional magistrate to seal these units.
A team of officers from DPCC, DJB, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), representatives of the Wazirpur Industrial Area CETP society and All India Plastic Industries Association had carried out a survey of the area on 24 February this year. Samples of waste water flowing in open drains were collected at three locations and pH levels were found to be far below the standard and norms.
"This means steel pickling industries are not carrying out any treatment and the waste water is being discharged into open drains meant for stormwater," said the closure notice issued on Wednesday.
The DPCC had in late March warned the Wazirpur industrial units of closure if they failed to treat their effluents and discharged these in the conveyance system leading to the common effluent treatment plant (CETP).
"We have not received any DPCC notice yet. Everyone is following the rules. If at all one or two units are not following the rules, then they should be penalised and not all the 112 units in the industrial area," Jaikumar Bansal, president of Wazirpur Industrial Association, said.
"Not just the people working in the pickling units, but other related industries will also be affected. We will go to court against this order," he added.