Bindu Shajan Perappadan & Priscilla Jebaraj
‘Union Environment Ministry to issue a notice to the company'
NEW DELHI: The controversial Timarpur-Okhla “waste-to-energy” project, owned by Jindal Ecopolis, has violated environmental law, according to Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. His Ministry is drafting a notice to issue to the company, he said.
He was speaking after a visit to the plant site on Thursday with senior officials after residents living nearby mounted pressure on the Ministry to shut it down, fearing excessive pollution.
“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,” Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu.
“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.
In fact, “MoEF should not have given an environment clearance considering that no proper public hearing was held,” said Mr. Ramesh. “A public hearing conducted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee in 2007 – before the construction of the plant was to begin – wasn't attended by any of the residents, members of non-government organisations or other persons opposed to the setting up of the plant. The meeting instead of being held at the site of the plant was held in Saket. The environmental assessment report about the plant was also not made public at that time.”
The Minister also directed the Central Pollution Control Board conduct a technical analysis. “CPCB will look into the emission/pollution that will be caused by the plant when it becomes functional. The report is expected by April-end and then we will re-look at the plant,” he said.
Promising the angry residents of nearby colonies that he would look into the matter, Mr. Ramesh announced that he will conduct another meeting with the resident representatives on Friday evening.
“Seventy per cent of the plant is complete and we plan to start trial runs by June-July. But certain discrepancies have come to light in setting up of the project,” noted the Minister.
Said environmentalist Gopal Krishna: “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 five 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.”
A senior resident representing Eshwar Nagar, Anant Trivedi, said: “There is little point in attending any hearing when the environment impact assessment was not made available to the public until March 2011. We are agitated against the plant which uses technology that is known to emit dangerous dioxins, furans and toxic oxides.”
Another resident of Jamia Nagar, Amanatullah Khan, noted that the plant is located in close proximity to the Jamia Millia Islamia University, the Holy Family Hospital and several schools and institutions.
1 April, 2011
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