"We're not to blame," chemical traders plead righteously when asked about the delay in relocating hazardous chemical units from capital's highly congested 'Walled City' to safer areas. They point out the considerable delay is because they have still to be allotted new sites. The traders insist they would be only too willing to move to safer locations. Alok Gupta of the 400-member Chemical Merchants Association (CMA) explained, "In the present crowded premises, we face problems of storage. Moreover, transport vehicles cannot easily negotiate the narrow lanes where our establishments are right now."
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) urgently announced recently that noxious industrial units are to be relocated. Municipal commissioner P V Jayakrishnan served notice on the firms concerned to move out by the end of March, but the CMA asked for a brief deadline extension to June 30, with the promise that its members would clear existing stock by then and acquire new stock only after they had relocated.
But, the traders warn the MCD is yet to respond to their queries about alternative sites.
Meanwhile, A S Kathuria of Ekam Chemicals Ltd points out another problem: He says the MCD list of 141 chemicals considered hazardous includes sodium chloride -- common salt.
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