Jairam Ramesh Orders Technical Review of Proposed Okhla’s Waste to Energy Incinerator
1st April 2011, New Delhi: Aggrieved residents of Okhla colonies met Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of Environment & Forests to point out serious legal violations concerning the Okhla ‘Waste-to-Energy’ Plant and asked him to take cognizance of imminent public health crisis facing the residents of several colonies of the area. The residents submitted a letter to him. (the letter is given below)
It was pointed out that waste to energy incinerators are coming up in manifest violation of the Supreme Court’s order. The order was shared with him. Responding to these grievances, the minister deputed Bharat Bhushan, director, MoEF, to meet the residents again on 2nd April, 2011 to comprehend the situation arising from incinerators which are known to release toxic gases and particles.
The residents appreciated the Minister’s statement,: “MoEF should not have given an environment clearance considering that no proper public hearing was held”.
With reference to the plant promoter Jindal Ecopolis’ argument that “70 percent of the plant is complete”, it was clarified that the Delhi High Court had warned the promoters that they were building at their own risk.
The residents agreed with the Minister when he said, “The environment clearance was originally given to IL&FS. Then they auctioned off the project, and sold it to the bidder who promised the lowest cost of power and that was Jindal Ecopolis, But the law says that when the project promoter changes, even if they just change their name, they must come back to the Ministry to revalidate their clearance…This is a definite violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.”
The notification says that before a clearance can be transferred, an application must be made to the regulatory authority concerned. Ministry officials say that since the expertise and environmental track record of the project promoter is investigated as part of the appraisal process before a clearance is granted, any change in management must be communicated to the Ministry. The minister noted that they had failed to do so.
Amanatullah Khan, a Congress party leader from the Jamia Nagar area, Okhla was present raised the issue of an existing biomedical waste incinerator continue to function in the area issue in spite of a one year court order to have it relocated.
Toxic Watch Alliance was also represented at the meeting.
For Details: Anant Trivedi: Resident, Eshwar Nagar, Mb: 9868502292
Vanya Joshi, Sukhdev Vihar Resident, 41321182, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Asha Arora: 9711408421, Okhlakaghosla@gmailcom
Okhla Anti-Incinerator Committee - E-mail: email@example.com
Blog: toxicswatch.blogspot.com, Gopal Krishna, Mobile: 9818089660,
Letter to Jairam Ramesh
1st April 2011
Shri. Jairam Ramesh
Hon'ble Minister of State (Independent charge)
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Paryavaran Bhavan CGO Complex
Lodhi Road, New Delhi -110003
Subject: Serious violations concerning the Okhla ‘Waste-to-Energy’ Plant
We do understand that with urbanization and changing lifestyles waste management requires attention. What we do not understand is why a ‘waste-to-energy” project is being located in close proximity to long-established residential colonies in Okhla.
Sir, In the context of your letter to the Chief Minister of Delhi on March 7th requesting to consider relocation of the plant, and your site visit on 31st march we ask you the following:
1. When the residents of several colonies of the area have been protesting, submitting letters/memoranda expressing their concerns and objections for the past 3 years, and the matter is sub judice why lay the foundation stone?
2. Why was the public notice drafted in a manner as to confuse the public? “Integrated municipal solid waste processing complex?” Mr. Minister we appreciate your statement, “MoEF should not have given an environment clearance considering that no proper public hearing was held.” But, why penalise the residents for MoEF’s oversight?
3. When the so-called public consultation was not attended by even a single person how does it become automatic endorsement of the project by the public? If primary stakeholders have not been consulted and in fact have been in opposition to the plant right from the beginning, how do you justify the existence of this plant ?
4. Your justification that “ 70 percent of the plant is complete” should be seen against the fact that the plant promoters have been pushing for a fait accompli all along. When the same argument was brought before the court, the promoters were told they were building at their own risk.
5. Mr. Minister the Hindu quotes you as saying: “The environment clearance was originally given to IL&FS. Then they auctioned off the project, and sold it to the bidder who promised the lowest cost of power and that was Jindal Ecopolis,” But the law says that when the project promoter changes, even if they just change their name, they must come back to the Ministry to revalidate their clearance…This is a definite violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.” Then why protect Jindal Ecopolis?
“The notification says that before a clearance can be transferred, an application must be made to the regulatory authority concerned. Ministry officials say that since the expertise and environmental track record of the project promoter is investigated as part of the appraisal process before a clearance is granted, any change in management must be communicated to the Ministry,” The Hindu further quotes you.
6. You ask, where were the residents all these years? Mr. Minister we are ordinary citizens and not watchdogs. It is the Govt’s duty to protect the rights and interest of its citizens. Residents are not subject experts and in a situation of secrecy and lack of transparency they are further hampered. Right in front of you Minister Salman Khurshid agreed that he is not aware of the plant coming up in his residential area, Jamia.
7. When there is overwhelming evidence that plants of this type produce toxic gases, residues and respirable particles why locate it in a densely populated area of Delhi. The rules clearly say that incinerators should be located in a landfill site. As long-term residents we know that nearest landfill site is in Tughlakhabad. What existed was a mandatory green buffer zone between the residences and the sewage treatment plant. Someone is deliberately misleading your office.
8. Why turn Okhla and its surroundings into the exhaust pipe of Delhi? There already is already serious mishandling of sewage treatment and biomedical waste going on there, ignoring the Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Wiildlilfe Park which has national standing.
9. How does this project satisfy the MSW (Management & Handling) Rules 2000? Or the White Paper on waste management brought out by the environment ministry? Or the parliamentary committee?
10. When this is not a pilot project, as allowed by the Supreme Court in 2007, what was the great need to mislead the court and willfully violate its spirit and intent?
11. While the Delhi government is pushing all industries outside the city limits, how is it allowing this one? And that too with no cap on electricity production? What if there is a Bhopal-type accident? Is there a criminal liability clause?
12. How does the developer have the courage to announce that the capacity of the project would be doubled to handle 4,000 tons per day? Why allow complete freedom to increase the capacity and then turn the blind eye to what could happen in future.
13. Has smog-causing atmospheric inversion over Delhi in winter been factored in?
14. Mr. Minister when you say that there are more than 350 similar projects across the globe then we would like to know with which one you have benchmarked this WTE project ?
15. Kindly clarify, whether the objective of this plant is to help Private enterprise make profits or to tackle waste management problem ?
Aggrieved residents of the Okhla colonies.