High Court Apprised of Legal Violations by Jindal’s Okhla Waste Incinerator
Asian Development Bank (ADB) withdrawal of funds under its Asia Pacific Carbon Fund merits attention
New Delhi/ May 24: In the Delhi High Court, Arvind Nigam, counsel in the matter of Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association and Others presented on May 23, 2011 a list of legal violations by respondents in constructing the waste-to-energy plant incinerators at Okhla. The plant based on hazardous incinerator technology is being set up by Timarpur-Okhla Municipal Solid Waste Management Company Pvt. Ltd (TOWMCL), 100 % subsidiary of O P Jindal Group’s Jindal ITF Urban Infrastructure Ltd.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has been campaigning against this incinerator technology based plant from the time TOWMCL was a subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. TWA has pointed out from 2005 that the plant is based on Ministry of Science & Technology's Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) patented technology for incineration of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) made of municipal solid waste. The project was due to start on August 2006 and get completed in April 2008.
It was in March 2009 that Sukhdev Vihar Residents filed the Writ Petition (Civil) which was initially dismissed on 12th August, 2009 because of misrepresentation of facts by A S Chandiok Additional Solicitor General. The court later found that it was misled earlier which had led to it dismissing the petition. The Petition was restored and the bench headed by the Chief Justice, Delhi High Court in an order dated 15th January, 2010 observed, “that the project in question” and “the location of the pilot project in Delhi was neither recommended by the Expert Committee nor approved by the Supreme Court.” In a letter to Lt Governor, Delhi and Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), TWA pointed such acts of omission and commission to promote the waste to energy incinerator plant must be stopped.
Some 21 years after the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) shut down its waste-to-energy power plant at Timarpur, efforts are on to revive it just to benefit from clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol to earn carbon credits. Its real purpose is not waste management and the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy underlines that waste management does not fall under their jurisdiction; energy generation is their driving concern.
What Delhi Government chooses to remain oblivious of is that started in 1990, the RDF plant at Timarpur was based on a technology imported from Danish firm Volund Milijotecknik. The plant was designed to incinerate 300 tonnes of municipal solid waste every day and generate 3.75 mw of power. Later it was realized that the Delhi waste didn’t have enough calorific value and the plant was shut after 21 days of operation. MCD would have us believe that now, the calorific value of the waste has increased over the years and the plant is bound to work this time.
This is technology is based on incineration, which will lead to serious air pollution including green house gases as per Annexure A of Kyoto Protocol; it also disqualifies the project for CDM benefits. The project is misleading for it does not reveal about the health hazards from emissions of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) like Dioxins and Furan that are covered under Stockholm Convention on POPs.
The written statement was submitted to the High Court on 23rd May when respondents including Jindal Ecopolis, Govt of National Capital Region (NCR) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) asked for a deferment of hearing to the case which had come up for final disposal. Chief Justice Deepak Misra noted the seniority of counsel and allowed the written submission, copies of which were given to respondents and the fact recorded. Chief Justice Misra then posted the next hearing for June 1, 2011.
Violations include that of Supreme Court rulings in 2005 and 2007 restricting plants using waste-to-energy (WTE) technology to pilot projects. What is coming up at Okhla, it was submitted, was a full-scale industry burning 2010 tonnes of municipal solid waste to produce 16 megawatts of electricity. TWA had repeatedly pointed out these violations in its letters to MNRE since 2005.
Counsel for the residents pointed out land use violations. It was submitted that the site was earmarked for green activity, such as district parks, and for educational and research institutions as per the Zonal Development Plan of Zone F (South Delhi-1) of 1998. The use of the said land continued as above until substituted by Zonal Plan of Jun 2010 pursuant to Master Plan 2021.
However, various clearances were granted by DPCC, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Municipal Corporation Delhi, Govt of NCR when amended Zonal Plan 2010 was not in force and are therefore in violation of the law and also of PIL filed in 2009.
As per the directions of the Supreme Court heavy and polluting industries in Delhi, including Okhla, were moved out. Also since 1970 a number of residential colonies – Sukhdev Vihar, Jasola Vihar and Sarita Vihar – containing flats as well as plotted colonies – Sukhdev vihar, Ishwar Nagar etc and urban villages Masihgarh, Jasola, Julaina, Gaffar Manzil, Noor Nagar, Haji colony and Harikesh Nagar were approved thereby changing the profile of Okhla, which now has a10 lakh population.
However, now an attempt is being made to again change land use. About 13.5 acres of land was transferred to Jindal Ecopolis without prior permission from the Delhi Development Authority, violating DDA rules and procedures.
The plant violates the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2000 which require any incinerator to be integral to an existing landfill site, whereas the nearest landfill is located at Tughlakabad about 12 kms away from Jindal’s WTE.
While the Municipal waste Handling Rules 2000 require technology used in a WTE to be approved by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) no such approval has been obtained by respondents. CPCB rules also caution local bodies against adopting “expensive technologies of power generation, fuel pelletisation, incineration etc” until proven under Indian conditions and certified by the Government of India.
Under procedural violations the residents have submitted that there was no worthwhile public hearing, the submission said. This has been acknowledged by the Minister of Environment of Forests (MoEF). Further the State has a duty to disclose fully the size, the technology to be used, likely hazards and the full impact of the project to the public.
Environmental clearance for the project was given originally to the Industrial Leasing and Financing Services (IL&FS), but the company auctioned it to Jindal Ecopolis which failed to approach the MoEF as required by law. This too has been acknowleged by MoEF Minister, Jairam Ramesh and he has written about this in a complaint to the chief minister of Delhi. There is overwhelming evidence that plants of this type produce toxic gases, residues and respirable particles, the Okhla WTE is being set up just 100 metres away from the nearest established residences.
Counsel also submitted that operation of the plant would result in 300 truck-loads of municipal waste or flyash daily moving to and from the plant would seriously disrupt traffic on Mathura Road and Ring Road.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has been raising the issue of controversial "waste-to-energy (WTE)" incinerators that are proposed in Delhi since 2005. These WTE projects in Delhi are meant for 62.2 MW of power at Okhla, Timarpur, Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana has been proposed. The plants at Okhla and Timarpur will generate 16 MW energy and Gazipur will generate 10 MW. The Narela-Bawana plant will generate 36 MW was mentioned in MCD's Budget of December 2010.
February 2011, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) withdrew funding to the plant under its Asia Pacific Carbon Fund, but the Timarpur Okhla Waste Management Company claims it will be able to reduce carbon emissions by 262,791 tonnes per year for the next ten years, and has filed for carbon credits. TWA was in correspondence with ADB and it had revealed ADB’s decision to media.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance, Mb: 9818089660
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Prof H B Singh, formerly with Chemistry Department, Delhi University, General Secretary, Jasola Residents Welfare Association Mb: 9899818550, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vivek Dhupa, President, New Friends Colony RWA ( 9313746051)
Arif Khan, General Secretary, Haji Colony RWA . Mobile: 9891519844
Anant Trivedi, RWA member, Ishwar Nagar.
Vanya Joshi, Coordinator, Okhla Anti-Incineration Committee - 9873980694
Asha Arora, Co-coordinator, Okhla Anti-incineration Committee. Mobile-9711408421 .
Padma Agarwal Gen. Secy RWA Jasola Vihar - 9312212419
Praveen Shrivastava, RWA, Sarita Vihar - 9871039616
S. Khurana, Vice President, Sukhdev Vihar RWA – 9810218150
Facebook page Okhla ka Ghosla