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35 waste related CDM projects in India

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, November 21, 2011 | 10:28 PM

There are 35 waste related CDM projects in India which has got host country approval. The most controversial one is Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy plant which we have been fighting since March 2005 along with residents of Timarpur and Okhla in particular. Residents are pursuing a case in the Delhi High Court since 2009. The plant of Prithviraj Jindal of Delhi’s Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL) of M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited has been facing demonstration by resident welfare associations. High Court heard the matter on 3rd and 17th November, 2011. The next date of hearing is on December 12, 2011.

The TOWMPCL had submitted its CDM Project Activity Registration through Société Générale de Surveillance (currently known as SGS), a Switzerland and United Kingdom based Designated Operational Entity (DOE) on March 3, 2007. The project Registration Date is mentioned as November 10, 2007 and its Reference No. 1254. It is crediting period is mentioned as 01 April 2009 - 31 March 2019. At the time of the approval of the registration, CDM Executive Board had Mr Rajesh Kumar Sethi as its member. Mr Sethi was elected for two years in 2006 as a member. He became the Chair of the Executive Board that regulates the CDM projects in January 2008. Prior to that Mr Sethi was the Vice-Chair of the Board and had served as Chairman Methodologies Panel of the Board as well from January 2006 – January 2007.

It may be noted that on May 15, 2007, Mr Sethi in his role as Director, Climate Change Division, Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests and Designated National Authority had given Host Country Approval to the project in question to an Indian Administrative Service Officer who was officiating as Chairman, Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL).

In the light of the widely reported revelations by Wikileaks which quotes Mr R. K. Sethi, the then chairman of the CDM’s Executive Board and member-secretary of the Indian CDM Authority, admitting that the authority only “takes the project developer at his word for clearing the additionality barrier”, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has sought intervention of the CDM Executive Board to review the registration granted to the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy project. WikiLeaks website has revealed that most of the CDM projects in India should not have been certified because they did not reduce emissions beyond those that would have been achieved without foreign investment.

Having studied these projects and their impacts, TWA has submitted a petition to Martin Hession, Chair, CDM Executive Board stating that it ought to devise ways to stop such hazardous projects from being designated as CDM projects. They have responded. I am pursuing the matter with the Board. Earlier, pursuant to our engagement with the Asian Development Board (ADB), they withdrew from the project. Few days back a concerned World Bank official informed TWA that the Bank does not support waste incineration for energy any more. One needs to verify it.

Of the 35 Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) projects approved by India’s Designated National Authority (DNA), National CDM Authority, TWA is familiar with 11 of these projects. All the waste incineration based projects mentioned in the list are based on the claimed success of a failed Dioxins emitting waste to energy incinerator plant for 6.6 MW that lies defunct at Elikatta Village, Shadnagar Mandal, Mahboobnagar District, Andhra Pradesh by SELCO International Ltd, which is also mentioned in the list of 35 projects. We did a fact finding visit to the Andhra Pradesh based plant and found that it has been lying defunct for months.

It may be noted that to begin with Timarpur Waste Management Company Pvt. Ltd. (TWMCPL) was a subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS) which was to generate 6 MW of electricity to earn carbon credits based on Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs). The project got listed before the Executive Board on 23 May 2006, and the Board had sought comments until 21 June, 2006 after TWMCPL had submitted its project design document. TWA had submitted adverse comments on it but to no avail. Later, the same project was revised for 15 MW, then it was revised for 16 MW and now it claims that it is meant for 20.9 MW. Both Environment Impact AssessmentS (EIAs) and Project Design Documents (PDDs) should have been revised and put out for public scrutiny but it never happened. The fact remains the project did not meet even the additionality criteria besides violating every rule in the rule book.

Since early November, the plant has attempted several trial runs but so far it has failed to start. TWA has brought these facts to the attention of the CDM Board and they are pursuing the matter. TWA is opposed to carbon trade in all its shades and shapes. Carbon trade promotes corpratization of waste that adversely impacts the livelihood security and destroys soil nutrients. Few weeks back, I was invited for a public hearing in Punjab where a RDF based power plant was proposed and was impressed with villagers ruthless attack and interrogation of the project proponents, the Jindals. The support from vernacular and English media too was excellent. TWA has long held that those who support carbon trade appear to be fake environmental organisations who do not realize that they can't run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
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