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Remembering a Betrayal: Bhopal 30 Years After

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, November 21, 2014 | 12:59 AM

Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)
In collaboration with
 Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS), Delhi

Invite you to Panel Discussion on

Remembering a Betrayal:
Bhopal 30 Years After
                                  
                                   Panelists:
Indira Jaising, Former Additional Solicitor General
N.D. Jayaprakash, Co-Convener, BGPSSS
Vikas Bajpai, CSMCH
Gopal Krishna, Toxics Watch Alliance

                              Chair: Mohan Rao       


Date: 27th November 2014 (Thursday) Time: 2.30 pm. Venue: Room 206, SSS-2, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)

Third Meeting of Indo-US Science & Technology held

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | 11:31 PM

The 3rd Science and Technology Joint Commission meeting between India and USA was held on November 17, 2014 in New Delhi. The JCM was co-Chaired by YS Chowdary Minister of State for Science & Technology, Government of India and Dr. John Holdren, Director, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and the Science Adviser to the U.S. President. Both sides recognized the value of the science and technology cooperation in being one of the pillars and integral component of overall bilateral relationship.

Chowdary highlighted the importance which the present government underlines to the promotion and support to science with a human face which will underpin the development of technology required to support the knowledge economy of this century.

Four Working Groups on Basic and Applied Sciences; Health and Medical Sciences; Earth, Environment and Climate Sciences; and Emerging Materials and Advanced Manufacturing had very fruitful discussions in not only evaluating the progress but also identifying new areas of future cooperation. Both sides have agreed to establish a new Working Group on plant biotechnology and agricultural research which is vital for addressing food security in context to food-water-climate nexus.

A very crucial area of Global Health Security has been jointly addressed for cooperation towards emergency preparedness and response; anti-microbial resistance; emerging infections like Ebola. Similarly the aspects of environmental health have been also covered especially with respect to water, air pollution, sanitation and hygiene. India and USA also agreed to take forward collaboration in ground water studies, monsoon modeling, tropical cyclones and severe weather systems. The future areas of collaboration in marine services, deep drilling in the ocean, satellite observation and assimilation and wave modeling were jointly identified. It was agreed that the Department of Science & Technology and U.S. NSF will strengthen cooperation in the area of women in science, particularly in networking and mentoring.

Dr. John Holdren emphasized the need to use and apply science to address some of the impending challenges which India and USA needs to meet for its food, water and energy security. It was decided that through cooperation innovative solutions can be developed which are affordable and meets not only bilateral needs but would be of larger global good.

TSR Subramanian Committee Submits Report to Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change

The TSR Subramanian Committee submitted its report to Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change on November 18, 2014. The Committee was constituted to review the processes, laws and Acts of the Ministry. Speaking on the occasion.

Javadekar said that the Report would strengthen processes to balance developmental commitments and environment protection. The recommendations of the Report would enhance Ministry’s efforts to avoid undue delays and ensure transparency in clearances and implementation of projects. 

The Minister stated that Ministry would expedite consultations with all stakeholders for the timely implementation of the recommendations of the Committee. 

Subramanian, Chairman of the Committee, said that the committee had built on the existing mechanisms to optimize the efforts to balance developmental imperatives causing least possible damage to environment. The committee had undertaken wide-ranging consultations with stakeholders and formulated action points to streamline Ministry’s efforts to strengthen institutions and processes.

The Ministry had appointed the High Level Committee (HLC) to review the following Acts administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change.
(i)                Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
(ii)              Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
(iii)             Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
(iv)            The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
(v)              The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,   1981
The terms of reference were as follows:-
 (i)     To assess the status of implementation of each of the above Acts vis-a-vis the  objectives;
(ii)   To examine and take into account various court orders and judicial pronouncements relating to these Acts;
(iii)  To recommend specific amendments needed in each of these Acts so as to bring them in line with current requirements to meet objectives; and
(iv)  To draft proposed amendments in each of the above Acts to give effect to the proposed recommendations.

The composition of the Committee was as follows:-
(1)        T.S.R. Subramanian, Chairman
(2)            Viswanath Anand, Member
(3)             Justice (Retd.) A.K. Srivastav, Member
(4)             K.N. Bhat, Member

Residents of Okhla, Narela-Bawana, Ghazipur face toxic threat from municipal waste incinerator plants

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, November 14, 2014 | 5:43 AM


                                                                                                                                                                                        

To


Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan
Chairman National Human Rights Commission Manav Adhikar Bhawan Block-C, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi - 110023
Through Shri Rajesh Kishore, Secretary General, Chief Executive Officer, NHRC

Date: November 14, 2014

Subject- Residents of Okhla, Narela-Bawana, Ghazipur face toxic threat from municipal waste incinerator plants

Sir,
This is to draw your attention towards some 100 doctors writing letters on the subject of public health crisis in the Okhla residential areas and seeking protection from the war chemicals and other hazardous chemicals being emitted from the municipal waste incinerator plant located amidst Sukhdev Vihar, Hazi colony and other colonies. Prior to this Delhi High Court and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development has ruled against such hazardous incinerator/combustion technologies.  Such plants pose a grave threat to health and environment of the residential areas of Narela-Bawana and Ghazipur as well. This issue has been highlighted in an episode of Satyamewa Jayate.

I submit that more than 80 doctors from Holy Family Hospital in Okhla and some other hospitals across the city have written open letters raising concerns about emissions from the Okhla waste-to-energy plant. In their letters, written on individual letterheads, doctors have said polluting emissions from the plant could lead to allergies, asthma, cancers and reproductive anomalies. 

I submit that many of these doctors also live close to the waste-to-energy plant. Central Pollution Control Board checks at the plant site have revealed dioxin emissions to be way higher than the permissible limit. Residents are extremely concerned about fly ash from the plant falling on their homes and vehicles. Delhi Pollution Control Committee issued a show cause notice to the plant in January for not meeting the air quality standard.

Fr P A George, director of the hospital has submitted, "An unusually large number of patients are coming in with respiratory ailments like asthma and bronchitis which can be attributable to the high levels of pollution in Okhla caused by the plant. The Holy Family Hospital has announced plans to launch a medical college. We would like it to function in an unpolluted environment".

Neonatologist with Fortis La Femme Ashu Sawhney, who lives just behind the plant, said, "Based on my experience as a paediatrician as well as various studies, I can say such pollutants cannot just cause respiratory illnesses but also learning and behavioural problems. My daughter developed asthma last year".

Another paediatrician from AIIMS Shivani Randev said, "Most children from the area are suffering from respiratory illnesses. These pollutants can cause foetal anomalies, infertility, cancer and other health issues. This is a humble request from residents, especially doctors, from the area to please help us and shut down the plant."

I submit that one of the main reasons for anxiety among residents and environmentalists is high dioxin levels around the plant. When CPCB monitored air quality there last October, dioxin level in stack 1 was 1.06ng TEQ/Nm3 (toxicity equivalent) and that in stack 2 was 0.93ng TEQ/Nm3 though safe level is 0.1ng TEQ/Nm3 only.

I submit that the social cost of this technology as a large number of ragpickers stand to lose their jobs if waste-to-energy plants are widely adopted for waste management. Though they are common in the West, there is a raging debate even there about the suitability of waste-to-energy plants. In Delhi, the issue is even more relevant because there is no waste segregation at source which is why chances of non-biodegradable waste like plastics ending up in the incinerator is high.

I submit that in February 2014 the 27th report of the Parliamentary Committee on Urban Development has recommended that "Incinerator plants should be stopped in all residential areas in all metropolitan & Big cities across the country" in its report to the Parliament.

The report reads: "The Committee note that the Municipal Solid Waste is delivered by NDMC and MCD at the Okhla Power Plant site. Although it is claimed that "only non Hazardous Municipal Solid Waste will be treated at the facility", the fact is that Delhi's mixed municipal solid waste has characteristics of hazardous waste. MCD, Delhi government and Central Government have shown sheer callousness towards hazardous emissions from municipal incinerators that cause serious environmental and health problems to the people living not only near them but thousands of kilometers away from the source. The Committee feel anguished and dissatisfied with the reply of the Ministry that the soot in the atmosphere is reported to be
within norms as it is monitored by Delhi Pollution Control Board. Therefore, the Committee recommend that these kinds of Waste Incinerator Plants
should be stopped in all residential areas in all metropolitan & Big cities across the country." It is an endorsement of our position.

The report states, "The Committee find that there are three major Sanitary Land Fill (SLF) sites in Delhi (Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalaswa-Jahangirpuri,) which have turned into huge mountains of garbage and far exceeded their life span." The report states, "During the hearing held on 15th May, 2007 in the matter relating to the stay on Govt. subsidies for projects on recovery of energy from municipal solid waste, Hon'ble Supreme Court has permitted the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to go ahead with setting up of 5 waste-to-energy projects to study the viability of such projects. Hon'ble Supreme Court also directed that no projects for waste-to-energy be taken up till 5 pilot projects are completed. As per the aforesaid direction, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy formulated "Programme on Energy Recovery from Municipal Solid Waste for Setting-up of 5 Pilot Projects". The programme provides central financial assistance @ 2.00 crore per megawatt limited to Rs. 10.00 crore per project for 5 pilot set up by State Nodal Agencies, Urban Local Bodies/ Municipal Corporations or entrepreneurs. So far 5 projects have been approved in the cities Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Pune..."

I submit that the report mentions one of these five projects as M/s Timarpur Okhla Waste Management Pvt. Ltd., (TOWMCL), Jindal ITF Centre, 28 Shivaji Marg, New Delhi (Promoted by Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd. The location is mentioned as Old NDMC Compost plant, New Okhla tank, New Delhi. 

I submit that the reference to this Okhla based plant as one of the 5 projects is deceptively worded to give the impression that it is one of those 5 projects which was approved by the Supreme Court. The RTI reply hasalready revealed that it was not one of those 5 projects.
I submit that the Delhi High Court's judgment dated January 15, 2013 establishes the health impacts from the incinerator based on existing medical literature. I am quoting the same below from the order. World Health Organisation also has a fact sheet on it.

I submit that the Delhi High Court bench of Chief Justice came to the rescue of residents of Okhla's Sukhdev Vihar who had filed case against operation of the biomedical waste incinerator due to adverse effect on their health. The judgment was pronounced on January 15, 2013. Okhla medical waste incinerator was supposed to be shut down by 15 July, 2013 as per the order of the Delhi High Court. In order to escape contempt of court, the Synergy company, the biomedical waste incinerator operator has filed a review application and has chosen not to comply with the Court's order with no consequence so far.

The High Court held that "We, therefore, direct respondent No. 2 Government of NCT of Delhi and respondent No. 7 M/s. SynergyWaste Management Pvt. Ltd. to shift the bio-medical waste disposal facility, being operated near Sukhdev Vihar, to a suitable site. *The site suitable for shifting of the said facility in terms of this order would be identified by the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT ofDelhi, within three months from today in consultation with DDA and DPCC and the facility in question would be shifted within three months thereafter, i.e., within 06 months from today."

The High Court judgment refers to 'The summary of "Epidemiological Studies on Adverse Health Effects Associated with Incineration" would show that medical waste incinerators are a leading source of dioxins and mercury in the environment and there is link between incinerator emissions and adverse health impacts on incinerator workers and residents living around the incinerators.'

I submit that the observations made in the judgment will have far reaching implications. It reads: "Both older and more modern incinerators can contribute to the contamination of local soil and vegetation with dioxins and heavy metals. In several European countries, cow"s milk from farms located in the vicinity of incinerators has been found to contain elevated levels of dioxin, in some cases above regulatory limits. Increased levels of dioxins have been found in the tissues of residents near to incinerators in the UK, Spain and Japan. At anincinerator in Finland, mercury was increased in hair of residents living in the vicinity. Children living near a modern incinerator in Spain were found to have elevated levels of urinary thioethers, a biomarker of toxic exposure. " It notes that "After 2 years of operation of incinerator, dioxins levels were found increased by about 25% in both groups living between 0.5 to 1.5 and 3.5 to 4.0 km away (201 people) of people. In the repeat analysis, the increase was in the range of 10-15%".
The judgment records that "Mothers living close to incinerators and crematoria from 1956 to 1993" showed "increased risk of lethal congenital abnormalities, in particular, spinal bifida and heart defects, near incinerators: increased risk of stillbirths and anacephalus near crematoria".
I submit that with regard to "Residents from 7 to 64 years old living within 5 km of an incinerator and the incinerator workers" the judgment observes, "Levels of mercury in hair increased with closer proximity to the incinerator during a 10 year period".
I submit that the judgment found that "Residents living within 10 km of an incinerator, refinery, and waste disposal site" showed "Significant increase in laryngeal cancer in men living with closer proximity to the incinerator and other pollution sources". The *"Residents living around an incinerator and other pollution sources" showed "Significant increase in lung cancer related specifically to theincinerator". *The *"People living within 7.5 km of 72 incinerators" displayed "Risks of all cancers and specifically of stomach, colorectal, liver and lung cancer increased with closer proximity to incinerators".

I submit that this judgment is quite important relevant for the Okhla's municipal waste incineration power plant is being operated by Delhi's Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL) of M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited. The plant is owned by Shri Prithviraj Jindal.

In a significant development Dr. A.N. Vaidya, Senior Principal Scientist and Head of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Division at NEERI informed that the joint report of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) which was prepared for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) on waste to energy projects in Delhi, reveals that combustion technology based waste to energy plants in Delhi "are posing threat to environment" and public health. He said, “it was based on NDMC request” in conversation with ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA).

In view of the above, I seek Commission's urgent intervention to stop a preventable public health disaster and to address the issue of health rights of the residents of the present and future generations.
Thanking You

Yours faithfully
 (Gopal Krishna)
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) A-124/6, First Floor, Katwaria Sarai,
New Delhi 110 016
Phone: +91-11-26517814
Fax: +91-11-26517814
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731
E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com Web: www.toxicswatch.org
Cc

Justice Shri Cyriac Joseph
Member, NHRC

Justice Shri D. Murugesan
Member, NHRC
Shri Sharad Chandra Sinha
Member, NHRC

Shri Wajahat Habibullah
Ex-officio Member, NHRC
Shri P.L. Punia
Ex-officio Member, NHRC

Dr. Rameshwar Oraon
Ex-officio Member

Ms. Mamta Sharma

Ex-officio Member

NGT warns Okhla's Jindal waste incinerator with dire consequences in case of non-compliance with its order

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 9:25 PM

The case of Dioxins emitting municipal waste incinerator of Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL) of M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited owned by Prithviraj Jindal was listed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for hearing on November 12, 2014 for the 17th time. After these 17 hearings in the NGT and 28 hearings in Delhi High Court, the Justice Swatanter Kumar, Chairperson led bench after hearing all the counsels issued the following, among other directions in the matter of NGT Application 22 of 2013 (THC)//SVRWA & Ors. V/s State of NCT of Delhi & Ors:

 (a)    A direction has been issued to CPCB to continuously carry out inspection of the MSW plant for a period of seven days from today,
(b)   A direction has been issued to CPCB to give the Hon’ble Court a report in case the online system of monitoring emissions of the plant operator was non functional at any time,
(c)    A direction has been issued to Municipal authorities to implement segregation of MSW at the point of origin i.e. at the level of houses, offices, hotels, etc against charging of a fee for the facility,
(d)   A direction has been issued to the Respondent CPCB to report whether the conditions specified in the environmental clearance granted to the MSW plant are being adhered to by the plant operator,
(e)   A direction has been issued to the Respondent MOEF to file their policy on the standards of emissions specified for MSW plants, with a further direction to clarify their policy on the location of MSW plants.                 

Rakesh Kumar Matwa, the Advocate for Applicants made the following submissions to the Tribunal:
(a) That the MSW plant has a design default due to which inspection of the same cannot be carried out during the night time.
(b) That the plant ceases to emit smoke after information in that regard is provided to the Central Pollution Control Board (“CPCB”) officials leading to a justifiable suspicion in the minds of the Applicants about the existence of collusion between the MSW plant proponent and the regulatory agency viz., CPCB.
(c) The attention of the Hon’ble court was also drawn to certain photographs (annexed hereto), which show excess smoke emitted by the MSW plant on 17/10/2014, 21/10/2014, 26/10/2014 and 12/11/2014. This was in stark contrast to the submission of the counsel for CPCB that there was no pollution.
(d) The counsel for the Applicants gave a suggestion to the Hon’ble court that the situation could be improved if segregation of MSW was ordered to be carried out at the point of source or origin i.e. at the level of households, offices, hotels, etc.

It was pointed out to the NGT that the segregation of MSW at source at the household level has already been introduced in Mumbai.

The Tribunal was informed that installed capacity of the plant is in the excess of 2000 tons of MSW consumption per day. The trucks loaded with MSW can be spotted on the Delhi Mathura Road carrying plastics and other waste which on incineration release toxic gases such as dioxins and furans. It was submitted before the Tribunal that the large quantity of MSW brought to the plant daily is not capable of segregation by deployment of any number of persons at the MSW plant. It is, therefore, essential that appropriate directions be issued for segregation of Municipal waste at source or origin.

K K Rohtagi, the lawyer for the residents who are the applicants raised the issue of location of the plant in the residential area which creates a compelling logic for closure of the plant.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660, E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Statement On Sterilsation deaths in Chattisgarh

 The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Sama Resource Group for Women and Health, Commonhealth and National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights are shocked at the death of 11 women and the critical condition of 50 other women due to the callous negligence of the Health Department, Government of Chhattisgarh. The deaths and morbidities are a result of a botched-up sterilization operation camp organized by a private hospital under the National Family Planning Programme in Takhatpur Block of Bilaspur District on 8 November 2014. Horrifically, during this camp, 83 women were subject to surgeries in a short span of 5 to 6 hours. Amongst those who have died are Dalits, tribals and Other Backward Classes, leaving behind shattered families and young children. This has resulted in gross violation of the reproductive and health rights of the women.

This tragedy raises grave questions about the unsafe, unhygienic conditions and the slipshod attitude under which these operations were conducted. Moreover, the women who are presently critical continue to get treatment in dismal conditions exposing them to further risks and danger. The surgeries were conducted in complete violation of the Supreme Court orders (Ramakant Rai Vs Govt. of India, 2005 and Devika Biswas Vs Govt. of India, 2012). These orders instruct that a maximum of 30 operations can be conducted in a day with 2 separate laparoscopes only in government facilities. Also, one doctor cannot do more than 10 sterilizations in one day.  Despite this, the surgeon in Chhattisgarh performed about three times the permissible number of surgeries (83) in less than 6 hours in a private hospital which has reportedly remained closed for 15 years. This is evidence of how these operations were not done under standard protocols.   The announcement of Rs 4 lakh compensation and suspension of officials (Director–Health Services; State Family Planning Nodal Officer; BMO,Takhatpur; the operating Surgeon; and Bilaspur CMHO) are not adequate to ensure that such incidents do not happen again. The systemic failures which led to this incident need to be addressed. While understanding the specific lapses in the way the sterilization camp in Chhattisgarh was organized, one should not forget the role played by the wrong policies and practices of the governments in the area of family planning services. Such ‘Camps’ keep getting routinely organized everywhere in the country in an irresponsible manner.  Health providers in many parts of India, universally confess that they are under pressure to fulfil unwritten targets coming from the top.  The state still focuses on permanent methods of family planning rather than temporary methods. In addition to this the two-child norm significantly contributes to the pressures for sterilization. All this despite the Government of India’s promises of ‘Repositioning Family Planning’ – to move away from permanent methods to spacing methods, to increasing access to safe and effective contraceptives. At the London Summit on Family Planning (2012), the Government of India committed to additionally providing 48 million women and girls with access to contraceptives by 2020. However, around 1 in 5 women of reproductive age do not have access to contraception such as condoms and OC pills. India’s promises at the Family Planning 2012 Global Summit will reinforce the pressures of meeting ‘targets’, which has dangerous and long-term implications for the health of the people.  This incident must be declared a disaster/emergency, and we demand that: Immediate responsibility needs to be fixed in terms of criminal negligence not only on the medical team which performed the operations, but also in identifying higher officials of the state who sanctioned this particular camp.  ·      A proper epidemiologically-sound investigation into this incident should be carried out. A three-member probe team has been constituted but these members are a part of the state, which signals a serious conflict of interest and thus, there should be an independent inquiry committee. ·      Further deaths and damage should be minimized. It must be ensured that technically the most competent medical care is provided to the women to avoid further deaths.  The ‘camp method’ of sterilization needs to be stopped with immediate effect as quality of care is seriously compromised in mass sterilization programme to meet earmarked targets.  ·      Women, adolescents and men need to be provided with safe choices for contraception. Emphasis should also be placed on male sterilization such as vasectomy, which involves comparatively lesser health risks. ·      Quality of contraceptive services, including counseling, has to be monitored both from within the system and from outside through community monitoring. ·      The family planning programme needs upheaval and a re-analysis, in order to protect the reproductive and health rights of women.

Okhla's Jindal waste incinerator case listed for hearing in NGT on 12 November

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 | 7:02 AM



Residents and birds of Okhla facing public health crisis

New Delhi: After 16 hearings in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and 28 hearings in Delhi High Court, the matter of Dioxins emitting municipal waste incinerator of Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL) of M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited owned by Prithviraj Jindal is listed for disposal on 12 November, 2014. It was listed for final disposal on 13th October, 2014 and 14th October, 2014 but Justice Swatanter Kumar, Chairperson led bench postponed its hearing.

One of the main reasons for anxiety among residents and environmental groups is high dioxin levels around the plant. When CPCB monitored air quality there last October, dioxin level in stack 1 was 1.06ng TEQ/Nm3 (toxicity equivalent) and that in stack 2 was 0.93ng TEQ/Nm3 though safe level is 0.1ng TEQ/Nm3 only. The residents have observed that the plant is currently running at night. 

Environmental groups and residents have been demanding its stoppage and closure since March 2005. Admittedly, the waste to energy incinerator plant in Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla has violated all the rules in the rule book with impunity. It is a classic case of environmental lawlessness in the heart of the national capital. The plant is operating without environmental clearance for its unapproved Chinese technology. The construction of the plant happened admittedly because of a fake public hearing.       

It is noteworthy that there is a case pending in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in this regard. The compliant pointed out that some 100 doctors wrote letters to the Prime Minister forewarning him of public health crisis in the Okhla residential areas and seeking protection from the war chemicals and other hazardous chemicals being emitted from the municipal waste incinerator plant located amidst Sukhdev Vihar, Hazi colony and other colonies. Prior to this Delhi High Court and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development has ruled against such hazardous incinerator/combustion technologies.  Such plants pose a grave threat to health and environment of the residential areas of Narela-Bawana and Ghazipur as well.

Earlier, the Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Urban Development which has recommended that "Incinerator plants should be stopped in all residential areas in all metropolitan & Big cities across the country" in its latest report to the Parliament.

The report reads: "The Committee note that the Municipal Solid Waste is delivered by NDMC and MCD at the Okhla Power Plant site. Although it is claimed that "only non Hazardous Municipal Solid Waste will be treated at the facility", the fact is that Delhi's mixed municipal solid waste has characteristics of hazardous waste. MCD, Delhi government and Central Government have shown sheer callousness towards hazardous emissions from municipal incinerators that cause serious environmental and health problems to the people living not only near them but thousands of kilometers away from the source. The Committee feel anguished and dissatisfied with the reply of the Ministry that the soot in the atmosphere is reported to be within norms as it is monitored by Delhi Pollution Control Board. Therefore, the Committee recommend that these kinds of Waste Incinerator Plants should be stopped in all residential areas in all metropolitan & Big cities across the country."  It endorses the position of environmental groups and residents of Okhla.

The report states, "The Committee find that there are three major Sanitary Land Fill (SLF) sites in Delhi (Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalaswa- Jahangirpuri,) which have turned into huge mountains of garbage and far exceeded their life span." 

The fact is Okhla is not and has not been a landfill. There is some deep mischief at work in declaring it as landfill in papers.

The report states, "During the hearing held on 15th May, 2007 in the matter relating to the stay on Govt. subsidies for projects on recovery of energy from municipal solid waste, Hon'ble Supreme Court has permitted the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to go ahead with setting up of 5 waste-to-energy projects to study the viability of such projects. Hon'ble Supreme Court also directed that no projects for waste-to-energy be taken up till 5 pilot projects are completed. As per the aforesaid direction, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy formulated "Programme on Energy Recovery from Municipal Solid Waste for Setting-up of 5 Pilot Projects". The programme provides central financial assistance @ 2.00 crore per megawatt limited to Rs. 10.00 crore per project for 5 pilot set up by State Nodal Agencies, Urban Local Bodies/ Municipal Corporations or entrepreneurs. So far 5 projects have been approved in the cities Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Pune..."

It mentions one of these five projects as M/s Timarpur Okhla Waste Management Pvt. Ltd., (TOWMCL), Jindal ITF Centre, 28 Shivaji Marg, New Delhi (Promoted by Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd. The location is mentioned as Old NDMC Compost plant, New Okhla tank, New Delhi.

The reference to this Okhla based plant as one of the 5 projects is deceptively worded to give the impression that it is one of those 5 projects which was approved by the Supreme Court. The RTI reply has already revealed that it was not one of those 5 projects.

Notably, more than 80 doctors from Holy Family Hospital in Okhla and some other hospitals across the city have written open letters to the Prime Minister's Office raising concerns about emissions from the Okhla waste-to-energy plant. In their letters, written on individual letterheads, doctors have said polluting emissions from the plant could lead to allergies, asthma, cancers and reproductive anomalies.  Many of these doctors also live close to the waste-to-energy plant. Central Pollution Control Board checks at the plant site have revealed dioxin emissions to be way higher than the permissible limit. Residents are extremely concerned about fly ash from the plant falling on their homes and vehicles. Delhi Pollution Control Committee issued a show cause notice to the plant in January for not meeting the air quality standard. 

"An unusually large number of patients are coming in with respiratory ailments like asthma and bronchitis which can be attributable to the high levels of pollution in Okhla caused by the plant. The Holy Family Hospital has announced plans to launch a medical college. We would like it to function in an unpolluted environment," said Fr P A George, director of the hospital.

Neonatologist with Fortis La Femme Ashu Sawhney, who lives just behind the plant, said, "Based on my experience as a paediatrician as well as various studies, I can say such pollutants cannot just cause respiratory illnesses but also learning and behavioural problems. My daughter developed asthma last year".
Another paediatrician from AIIMS Shivani Randev said, "Most children from the area are suffering from respiratory illnesses. These pollutants can cause foetal anomalies, infertility, cancer and other health issues. This is a humble request from residents, especially doctors, from the area to please help us and shut down the plant."

The social cost of this technology as a large number of ragpickers stand to lose their jobs if waste-to-energy plants are widely adopted for waste management. Though they are common in the West, there is a raging debate even there about the suitability of waste-to-energy plants. In Delhi, the issue is even more relevant because there is no waste segregation at source which is why chances of non-biodegradable waste like plastics ending up in the incinerator is high. 

In a significant development Dr. A.N. Vaidya, Senior Principal Scientist and Head of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Division at NEERI informed that the joint report of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) which was prepared for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) on waste to energy projects in Delhi, reveals that combustion technology based waste to energy plants in Delhi "are posing threat to environment" and public health. He said, “it was based on NDMC request” in conversation with ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA).

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731, E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org, Twitter: @krishna1715

Letter to Shri J P Nadda, Union Health Minister on WHO seeking elimination of Asbestos related diseases

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, November 10, 2014 | 7:51 AM

To


Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda
Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Government of India
New Delhi

Subject-WHO and Elimination of Asbestos related diseases

Sir,
Let me congratulate you on taking charge as the cabinet minister of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. It is quite apt that your experience as minister of health in the Government of Himachal Pradesh has been recognized. 

This is to draw your urgent attention towards the attached document of World Health Orgainsation (WHO) seeking elimination of asbestos related diseases. In our country, the past usage and the continued usage of the roofing sheets made of cancer causing fibers is an anti-public health legacy of previous governments because all kinds of asbestos including white asbestos causes incurable diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.  The alternatives of asbestos sheets are ideally suited for roofing applications.
I submit that owing to growing public awareness about the hazards of asbestos, consumption of asbestos dropped by 39% from 2012 to 2013 in India but this is hardly enough to save us from the hitherto unacknowledged imminent public health crisis. India's asbestos consumption in 2013 was 302,668 tons. In 2012, it was 493,086 tons. (In the pictures, Narayan and Suneetha Mehra in Ahmedabad. Mehra, who worked at a power plant and insulated steel poles with asbestos, has asbestosis, and so does his wife, from washing his clothes. Under the law the former can pursue the case for meager sum of money as compensation but fearing a protracted legal battle, he chose a out of court settlement. Few thousand of rupees that he got has already been spent in buying medicines which are nothing more than placebo. His wife does not have even this legal remedy or any other remedy.)

I submit that the Dr Barry Castleman, the noted author of Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects has underlined that one person dies from mesothelioma for every 170 tons of asbestos consumed. WHO estimates we have 107,000 deaths worldwide per year from occupational exposure to asbestos. If non occupational exposure is added it reaches a figure of about 120,000 deaths. Average world consumption/year 30-60 years ago was -- looks like 3/2 of what it is now (2 million metric tons/year). Give India its share of that based on its share of global consumption. At 300,000 tons in 2013, that's about 18,000 deaths (15% of 120,000). Dr Castleman's work was quoted by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in its judgment dated January 27, 1995.

I submit that if the ministry under your leadership can pay heed to the decision taken by some 55 countries which have banned asbestos of all kinds, it will be a historic moment. I wish to seek your intervention to ensure compliance with the resolution of WHO that has recommended elimination of asbestos for eliminating asbestos related diseases.

I submit that in case you decide to pay heed to WHO's resolution, this decision would honor the letter and spirit of Hon'ble Supreme Court of India's judgment dated January 27, 1995 directing central and state governments to update their rules and laws in the light of fresh ILO's resolution. ILO has made specific directions vide its Resolution of 2006 introducing a ban on all mining, manufacture, recycling and use of all forms of asbestos.

I submit that our National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), New Delhi is pursuing is a case (NHRC Case No.2951/30/0/2011) seeking compliance with the Hon'ble Court's order in the backdrop of an epidemic of asbestos related incurable lung diseases.

I submit that Secretary, Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh Administration has informed NHRC that "a. White Asbestos (Chrysotile Asbestos) is implicated in so many studies with the following diseases:-Mesothelioma (Cancer of Pleura), Lung Cancer, Peritoneal Cancer, Asbestosis, And also consider as cause of following cancers:- Ovarian Cancer, Laryngeal Cancer, Other Cancer, b. Diseases are produced in the person involved in Asbestos Industry." It states that "No. of cancer deaths due to asbestos requires further large scale study from India" It informed, "It is definitely harmful material, causing cancer and other related diseases."

I submit that the "Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and
  secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos" at page no. 28 of its concept paper presented by the central government at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on
  "Occupational Safety and Health" during 19-20 September, 2011.

I submit that it is noteworthy that Dow Chemicals Company has set aside $2.2 billion in compensation fund to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of acquisition of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and its Indian investments in 1999. Many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products have gone bankrupt in USA as a result of asbestos litigation.

I submit that Dr H N Saiyed, former Director, National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad has stated that paying compensation to the victims of asbestos related diseases is a long process. He added, asbestos does not have a threshold limit. The best way to stop the  diseases is to stop its use. Politicians are hiding behind absence of
data which is not being collected. They shared this at conference  organized by Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi organised by Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health in partnership with Drexel University, School of Public Health, Collegium Ramazzini, central ministries of Government of India and Heart of England, NHS Foundation Trust.

I submit that at the conference Dr. R.B. Raidas, Deputy Director General, Directorate General of Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes. (DGFASLI) has revealed that 36 out of 1000 workers have been found to be suffering from asbestos related diseases. He revealed that DGFASLI had studied some 8, 000 workers and found that some 228 workers were exposed.

I submit that although India has technically banned asbestos mining, Russia, the world's biggest asbestos producer remains India's biggest supplier of raw asbestos. India remains the world's biggest asbestos importer. India is consuming 15 % of the total world asbestos production, as per US Geological Survey estimates. 

I submit that Ukraine decided to prolong anti-dumping duties on imports of asbestos-cement corrugated sheets from Russia for an additional five years.
Given incontrovertible evidence, the ministry ought to consider recommendations to take preventive steps by ensure elimination of use of all kinds of asbestos as per the recommendations of the Hon'ble Court's and the WHO.   

In view of the above, there is an immediate need to conduct an audit of the current status of the victims of asbestos related diseases from the government hospital records in the country and make it mandatory for medical colleges to provide training for doctors so that they can diagnose diseases caused by occupational, non-occupational and environmental exposures to killer fibers and substances.
I am copying the message to Dr Castleman for his considered opinion in this regard.

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660,
E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org
Cc
Dr. Vishwa Mohan Katoch MD, FNASc, FAMS, FASc, FNA, Secretary, Department of Health Research (DHR), Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Dr Barry Castleman, author, Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects

Round Table on De-growth//post-growth Economy


Invitation for a Round Table on De-growth//post-growth Economy

You are cordially invited to the Round Table on De-growth/post-growth Economy at INSAF Library, First Floor, 124/6, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi, opposite Indian Statistical Institute, behind Bus Stand at 5 PM on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.     

This Round Table is part of the efforts underway to interrogate the episteme of linear economic growth at least since 17th century and its pre-determined destination for well being in general. The ambition of economic organizations and nation-states bas
ed on dubious "meta-economic" preconceptions that has subjugated our planet, the living species, the living processes and public institutions merits rigorous scrutiny.

The Round Table discussion will start with a presentation by Julien-François Gerber, a de-growth researcher. Dr Sudhirendar Sharma, Director, Ecological Foundation will initiate the discussion with his comments on the presentation.   

Venue: INSAF Library. First Floor, 124/6, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi, opposite Indian Statistical Institute, behind Bus Stand.      
Date: November 12, 2014
Time: 5.00 PM

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731, E-mail: gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com, www.toxicswatch.org  

Pentachlorophenol should be eliminated globally: UN Experts

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, November 02, 2014 | 9:58 PM

Agrees that DecaBDE flame retardant is one of the world’s worst chemicals
(Rome, Italy) A UN expert committee recommended the global elimination of pentachlorophenol – a pesticide used for wood treatment including utility poles. In its recommendation for the Stockholm Convention, the Committee cited pentachlorophenol’s persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range transport, and its toxic impacts. 

The Committee found wide availability of non-chemical alternatives that were much safer than pentachlorophenol. Governments around the world will decide on the recommendation in May 2015, but typically accept the recommendations of its expert committees. 

“This is the beginning of the end of pentachlorophenol,” said Pam Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “Pentachlorophenol has global health implications since it is found in the bodies of people throughout the world including Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. Now governments and the private sector need to get to work to finally eliminate this toxic chemical.” 

The Stockholm Convention expert committee also agreed that DecaBDE - a commonly-used chemical marketed as a flame retardant – warranted global action due to its harmful properties. 

“DecaBDE is close to all of us since it is widely found consumer electronics,” said Dr. Joe DiGangi, science and technical advisor for IPEN. “The expert committee signaled that DecaBDE is not manageable. This should move consumers, companies, and governments toward a global ban.” 

The Committee evaluated alternatives to PFOS, a surface treatment chemical with a variety of uses. PFOS is directly released to the environment when it is used in drilling fluids by the oil, gas, and fracking industries. The Committee will deliver new information on PFOS alternatives tohelp governments end certain uses. 

“We are delighted that the POPRC recommended full labeling of consumer products contaminated with PFOS,” said Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith, IPEN policy advisor. “Now governments need to take the next step and remove unwanted and unnecessary exemptions to this harmful chemical.” 

Finally, the expert group decided that Dicofol – a pesticide that uses DDT in its synthesis – contained key harmful properties that justified a full investigation. 

“Dicofol is DDT’s first cousin and there is a family resemblance,” said Dr. Meriel Watts of Pesticide Action Network. “It is widely used in agriculture and orchid cultivation, found in breast milk, and causes endocrine disruption.This chemical is overdue for elimination” 

IPEN is an international NGO comprised of 700 organizations in 116 countries that work to minimize, and whenever possible, eliminate, hazardous, toxic substances internationally and within their own countries. IPEN has been actively involved in the POPRC process for ten years.
 
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