April 8, 2012
Some residents, environmental groups and waste recycling workers are protesting against Bharaitya Janata Party (BJP)'s manifesto that promises bring municipal waste incinerators to generate electricity by burning waste in the national capital region in contravention of a Supreme Court order putting a stay on use of incinerator technology.
Delhi’s waste recycling workers and environmental groups are demanding the scrapping of the waste-to-energy policy which was not only polluting but also affected their livelihoods.
Earlier opposition party leaders of the BJP had also expressed apprehension over the location of such a plant in a densely populated area of South Delhi. “This plant would release various types of harmful gases which will certainly pose serious health threat to the lives of surrounding residents,” said Vijay Kumar Malhotra, BJP M.P. in a letter dated June 27, 2008 to the Lt. Governor of Delhi, Tejender Khanna. The U-turn by BJP is an act betrayal.
The toxic emissions from plants of this type have been known to cause birth deformities, caners, respiratory ailments and hormonal problems.
This proposal of the BJP in collusion with the Indian National Congress will turn Delhi into a health and environment disaster zone. Residents, environmental groups, waste recycling workers and left and socialist parties have joined hands to oppose the hazardous municipal waste incinerators in Delhi's Narela-Bawana, Ghazipur and Okhla.
The minutes of the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the NCR (EPCA) reveal that Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was asked about the actions taken to improve Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management in Delhi. "To this MCD replied that individual waste to energy projects have been already given to Jindal, Ramky and GMR, which will result in minimal inert residue for landfilling along with the generation of electricity," the minute reads. This is factually deceptive and scientifically incorrect.
As per the Manual on Municipal Solid Waste Management, Union Ministry of Urban Development, physical composition of Indian waste shows that inert material constitutes from 43.59 % to 53.90 % and compostable matter constitutes 44.57 % to 30.84 %. Thus, the total inert residue from waste to energy incinerator projects will be significantly higher after the incineration of waste which will produce toxic ash as well that requires disposal in engineered landfills.
This grave situation has emerged due to evidently flawed waste to energy policy of central government, state government and the MCD which are providing incentives to hazardous incinerator and co-incineration incineration technologies like Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF).
Political parties other than BJP and Congress must promise to work for abandonment of this harmful policy to save irreparable damage to sustainable and sane municipal solid waste management practices. It may be noted that besides being an emitter of Persistent Organic Pollutants, as per Annexure A of Kyoto Protocol, waste incineration is a green house gas emitter. The Ministry of Power can vouch for the fact that the energy from municipal is inconsequential compared to the colossal public health concerns.
The "White Paper on Pollution with an Action Plan" of the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests that the ministry’s wisdom is opposed to such municipal waste incinerators. The relevant part of White Paper in paragraph 4.1 reads: "The NEERI studies show that the treatment of solid waste not reduces the quantity requiring disposal but also reduces its pollution potential thereby preventing its adverse impact on environment. Some treatment methods also yield a product which can be recycled. Thermal treatment methods such as incineration or conversion of waste to briquettes and its subsequent use as fuel are not feasible due to the low heat value of the municipal solid waste in MCD area.
The experience of the incineration plant at Timarpur, Delhi and the briquetting plant at Bombay support the fact that thermal treatment of municipal solid waste is not feasible, in situations where the waste has a low calorific value. A critical analysis of biological treatment as an option was undertaken for processing of municipal solid waste in Delhi and it has been recommended that composting will be a viable option. Considering the large quantities of waste requiring to be processed, a mechanical composting plant will be needed."
Unmindful of this both Congress party led Delhi government and BJP led MCD are promoting such toxic power plants which emit chemicals like Dioxins which were used in US-vietnam war.
Residents, environmental groups and waste recycling workers appealed to the citizens of Delhi to ensure that both BJP and Congress do not get their support else they turn Delhi in to a gas chamber for the present and future generations.
(Krishna is member Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) and director ToxicsWatch.)
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