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Waste to Energy project faces protest

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, July 24, 2008 | 12:40 AM

NEW DELHI: Delhi's plans of using its waste for energy generation is
facing resistance from some quarters. Residents of Sukhdev Vihar and
Haji Colony near Okhla where one of the three plants is coming up,
held a meeting with the power secretary, asking him to reconsider the
location of this particular plant since it was too near a residential
area and would cause several health problems for those staying nearby.
Subsequently, the power secretary also visited the site on Saturday.

The incineration plants that will convert Delhi's waste to energy, are
also being opposed on grounds that incineration is a highly-polluting
method and against principles of the Kyoto Protocol which says that
waste incineration is a green-house gas emitter. Therefore, say
environmentalists, the project is against the basic philosophy of
climate change action plan. At present, despite most official records
claiming otherwise, environmentalists allege that there are no
waste-to-energy plants working in India. An incineration plant in
Delhi was shut down some years earlier since the waste did not have
the required calorific value for incineration.

After their meeting, residents were promised by power secretary
Rajendra Kumar, that he would inspect the site on Saturday and include
them in dialogue that was needed for the plant. However, he did add:
"All clearances for the plant have been taken. It will be better for
residents in all ways and we will try and convince them that it is the
best for everyone." Sources said that the Saturday meeting did not
lead to any truce but made residents only more determined to resist
the setting up of the plant in the area.

On why the site chosen was so near a residential area, Kumar said the
site had been earmarked for a garbage dump site years ago and the
garbage would only be enclosed now, not in the open.

However, on the other issue of use of high-calorie plastic, Kumar said
he would have to check with other agencies involved. Meanwhile, the
MCD confirmed it would not be segregating the plastic present in the
waste in order to increase its calorific value. "This itself is a huge
problem since burning of plastic leads to release of dioxins which are
extremely harmful for health," said an official of the Central
Pollution Control Board.

Gopal Krishna, environment researcher, said: "We are not against the
waste to energy project, but have a problem with incineration.
Instead, bio-methanation technology should be used and the present
plans need to be revisited in the light of that."

Neha Lalchandani
23 July, 2008
The Times of India
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