Jairam Ramesh Visits Okhla’s Hazardous Incinerator Plant Site amidst Agitation, Promises Inquiry
31, March, 2011 NEW DELHI: Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, visited the site of the controversial 2010 tonne-per-day “waste-to-energy” incinerator on Thursday, March. 31, that is fast coming up in Okhla, South Delhi.
Ramesh promised irate residents from nearby colonies, who gathered at the site, that he would inquire into how no resident or civil society people turned up at a public hearing conducted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) before the construction of the plant was begun, a fact pointed out by ToxicsWatch Alliance an environmental group present there. The proceedings of the public hearing drafted by DPCC were given to the Minister revealed it.
Anant Trivedi, a senior resident representing the Eshwar Nagar colony said there was little point in attending any hearing when the environment impact assessment was not made available to the public until March 2011. Ramesh asked Prof. S.P. Gautam, Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board present at the site to examine the concerns in front of the
DPCC officials present admitted to Ramesh that only two of their own staffers were present for the hearing conducted in 2007.
Residents from several colonies of Okhla area turned up to agitate against the plant which uses technology that is known emit dangerous dioxins, furans and toxic oxides.
Amanatullah Khan, a Congress party leader from the Jamia Nagar area, Okhla pointed out to the minister that the plant was in close proximity to the Jamia Millia Islamia, the Holy Family Hospital and several schools and institutions.
It was pointed out to the Minister that the plant, being built by Jindal Ecopolis, stands in violation of a Supreme Court order in 2005, banning waste-to-energy plants. In 2007, the court partially lifted the ban to allow 5 pilot projects on an experimental basis on biological treatment method but it is not one of those projects and the thermal technology too is non-biological.
The Supreme Court ruling echoed a White Paper produced by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) stating: “The government claims that this plant will generate electricity, but it will only generate dioxins and other toxic emissions.”
The Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG) and Delhi High Court have rebuked the concerned ministries for treating Delhi citizens as guinea pigs for experimental technologies that have been tried and have failed.
The residents are demanding that the MoEF cancel the flawed environmental clearance given to the “waste-to-energy” plant on the basis of fake public hearing, violation of Supreme Court rulings, proximity to residences and institutions.
One of the residents, R. K. Goyal told the minister that he should be primarily concerned about the health of the citizens rather than protecting the interest of private corporations that are pursuing unsound technological paths.
Notably, Asian Development Bank (ADB) has withdrawn from the Okhla-Timarpur waste to energy plant which was scheduled to start operations in November 2011 in the midst of bitter resistance of residents, wastepickers and environmental groups since March 2005.
For Details: Anant Trivedi: Resident, Eshwar Nagar, Mb: 9868502292
Asha Arora: 9711408421, Okhlakaghosla@gmailcom
Okhla Anti-Incinerator Committee - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog: toxicswatch.blogspot.com, Gopal Krishna, Mobile: 9818089660,