Mobs Rampage in New Delhi to Protest Closure of Polluting Factories

Published November 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Hordes of angry workers worried about losing their jobs Monday set fire to vehicles and a government office in New Delhi to protest against a court order closing polluting factories, officials said. 

"There were incidents of violence and arson in at least 13 places. Some of our fire engines could not even reach the trouble spots as mobs blocked the way," said Babu Lal Sharma, a fire brigade official. 

He said there were no reports of injuries to the firemen, but one fire engine was set ablaze. 

About six public buses were torched by angry protestors, who also burnt an office of the domestic telecom firm Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. 

The protests brought traffic to a halt in many places, including the arterial ring road which encircles the Indian capital, causing severe traffic jams. 

"The reports started pouring in after mid-day and they have not stopped till now. The worst affected area seems to be beyond the Yamuna river, Sharma said, referring to New Delhi's thickly-populated eastern quarter. 

India's Supreme Court had recently ordered the closure of polluting industrial units in residential areas. New Delhi has been rated one of the world's most polluted cities. 

New Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was due to hold an emergency meeting with her ministers later Monday to discuss the situation, officials said. 

Protestors worried about losing their jobs have demanded that industrial units in residential areas should be shut down only after the government provides an alternate site where they can be relocated -- NEW DELHI (AFP)  





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