NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on 18th July asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to conduct a joint inquiry about India's first waste-to-energy plant and file a report on the allegations that it posed health risks to citizens.
"A joint report be submitted by the DPCC and the CPCB after an inquiry of the site of the energy plant about the alleged risks posed to citizens," a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association alleging the waste-to-energy plant emits hazardous gas and other products which posed serious health threats to the persons staying in and around it.
During the hearing, Justice Khanna asked the Delhi government whether the shifting of the plant was possible or not.
Govt, residents spar in court over waste-to-energy plant
New Delhi The spat between residents of Sukhdev Vihar and the Delhi government over the proposed waste-to-energy plant witnessed another twist during the ongoing hearing in the Delhi High Court on 18th July.
While the counsel for the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) adduced a note claiming that the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had given to the plant operator a consent to run it in January last year, even before the unit was ready, the government counsel countered that the operator had not applied for such a permission till date.
The matter came up for hearing before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna during which senior advocate Arvind K Nigam sought a court order to restrain the operator from making the plant functional till the judges adjudicated upon the contentions regarding its proximity to residential area, and also the possible harmful effects on people owing to its emission.
“Let there be a court order. In the meantime, they (operator) will not function,” pleaded Nigam. To this, the court said, “The operator must obtain consent to operate from the pollution control board before it can start functioning.”
“The court must appreciate that they have already got a consent-to-operate letter. How could they obtain this on January 20, 2010, when the plant was not even ready?” argued Nigam.
Responding to this, standing counsel for the Delhi government and for the DPCC, Najmi Waziri said the information being furnished by the petitioner’s counsel was not right since the private operator had not even applied for obtaining a consent to operate.
“I have (a statement) from the operator that they have not even applied for the consent to operate. Only a consent to establish has been given. There is no question of granting a consent to operate when they have not even applied for it,” submitted Waziri.
After hearing the two completely contradictory statements, Justice Khanna asked Nigam to verify the source of the consent letter, for the operator had refused to having even applied for it till date and the government has also supported this stand.
“Considering what has transpired in the court, you must verify the documents you are relying upon,” Justice Khanna told Nigam.
The bench then recorded the statements of both the lawyers. It, however, refrained from passing any restraining order and merely elucidated that “without a consent to operate, the plant cannot operate”. The court will now hear the matter in August.
The plant awaits a nod from the court as residents of the area have filed a PIL, claiming that the plant was too close and posed an environment threat.
The Rs 200-crore project in Okhla is expected to treat more than 1,000 tonnes of solid waste, converting it into electricity. The Delhi government has termed it as a “potential answer to the city’s waste disposal problem”.
Concerns over Sukhdev Vihar plant baseless, model a success across the world: Govt to HC
Waste-to-energy plant z Residents of colony filed PIL in HC claiming that the plant was too close and posed an environment threat
The Delhi government has filed a detailed counter to the PIL by Sukhdev Vihar residents who had claimed that the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in the locality will damage the environment.
Calling the project a “potential answer to city’s waste disposal problem”, Delhi government’s Standing Counsel Najmi Waziri told the Delhi High Court that similar models are running successfully in other countries.
The PIL was filed by Sukhdev Vihar Residents’ Welfare Association in 2009.
The government, in its reply, has listed reasons why the court should give its approval for the construction of the Rs 200-crore project in Okhla. The plant is expected to treat more than 1,000 tonnes of solid waste, converting it into electricity.
Waziri also presented several photographs of similar plants operating in other countries, along with related charts and graphs on the estimated emission from the proposed plant. The counsel presented examples from Japan, Denmark, US, France, Sweden, Italy, etc.
He told the Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that any reservations regarding the proximity of the proposed plant to densely populated residential areas or hospitals are “unfounded and baseless”.
“Over 800 such waste to energy plants are in operation worldwide. A large number of them are located, literally, in the heart of thriving cities and have been functioning ever since without any complaints or proof about adverse effects health on the people and surrounding environment,” the note presented by the government read.
The government has also drawn a parallel between Delhi and Japan, considering the topographical match of the two cities and paucity of space in them.
“Delhi has the additional challenge of an ever-increasing population, leading to a further increase in waste generation. It is estimated that by 2020 Delhi’s municipal waste generation will be about 18,000 mt/day from 8,000 mt/day today. Both Japan and Delhi cannot ship out their municipal solid waste (MSW) and must find solutions to dispose of the same in the most effective and environment-friendly way,” the note added.
Pitching for the technology to be used in the plant, the government claimed that the Refuse Derived Fuel incineration technology was already in use at Hyderabad and Vijayawada and it had been approved by the Department of Science and Technology.
The government also denied any instance of violation of the municipal rules, regarding management and handling of municipal solid waste. It argued that a decision to set up an integrated waste processing project at a suitable location was taken after due deliberations with the representatives of various departments of the Delhi government.
It said that for over three decades, the land in question has been earmarked and used for disposal of municipal solid waste. As per allotment of the land by the DDA to the NDMC, first an area of 8.5 acre was given in 1980 and subsequently an additional five acre was handed over for a compost plant in 1995.
Residents, in their PIL, had argued that while they are not against the idea behind the project, their concern is the proximity of the plant to their colony. They had also submitted a memorandum to Minister of Environment and Forests and held demonstrations demanding that further construction of the plant be stopped immediately.