By BridgeNews India's Supreme Court on Dec. 7 ordered the Delhi government to shut down thousands of polluting factories within four weeks, despite violent protests last month by angry workers. The order was a blow to the Delhi state government, which had earlier sought to phase the closures over a period extending to 2002, so as to lessen the social impact. A first round of closures last month saw hundreds of factory owners and workers -- worried about losing their jobs -- taking to the streets, burning vehicles, and holding up traffic for almost a week. The Supreme Court pointed out that despite repeated orders being issued on the closure and relocation of the polluting units, the Delhi authorities had not carried them out. A Supreme Court judgment of 1996 had identified 121,000 industrial units as responsible for the increasing air and water pollution in the city and ordered their relocation or closure. New Delhi, which has a population of 12 million, has been rated one of the world's most polluted cities by the World Health Organization.