Indian Capital Braces for Fresh Wave of Worker Unrest

Published November 26th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The city government of India's capital braced for a fresh wave of protests as workers and owners of some 100,000 factories facing closure threatened to strike on Monday. 

Thousands of New Delhi's schools and colleges will be closed on Monday, while shops and businesses were ordered to down shutters as the protestors called for a one-day general strike in this city of 12 million people. 

"At no cost we will jeopardize the security of the children," a city spokesman said.  

The police has already deployed reinforcements and said it would call in contingents of paramilitary troops from their barracks in case violence erupted on Monday. 

"We will not allow these workers to hold the city to ransom again," a senior police official told AFP ahead of Monday's proposed shutdown. 

On Monday and Tuesday last week New Delhi saw unprecedented arson and street protests when the authorities tried to shut down some of the 100,000 industries, which were identified as polluting units by India's Supreme Court. 

At least two people were killed, scores injured and dozens of vehicles were set on fire during the two days of violence, which threw chaos into the streets of New Delhi. 

In a bid to stem the swelling protestors, the Indian cabinet on Wednesday said it would consider amending plans to save some of the factories facing the axe. 

But the protesting workers did not seem convinced by these assurances. 

"We plan to highlight the plight of the workers at whatever means we may use," warned a leader from the Small Scale Industries Action Front, one of the unions, which led last week's violent protests. 

The Supreme Court in 1996 identified 121,000 units, which they said were responsible for the mounting air and water pollution in the city and ordered their relocation or closure. 

New Delhi has been rated as one of the world's most polluted cities by the World Health Organization -- NEW DELHI (AFP)  




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