Okhla is slowly turning into a toxic gas chamber, thanks to Jindal Acropolis’ waste-to-energy incinerator plant. The plant burns 2,000 tonnes waste every day, say environmentalists.
Experts say that several rallies were held to protest against setting up of a waste-generating plant near a residential area, when it is not allowed under environment protection laws.
“These plants generate toxic gases. It is the same chemical which was used by the US to bomb Vietnam which is why we can say that it is a war chemical. The pollution created by the toxic emissions is making the air unbreathable,” said Gopal Krishna from ToxicsWatch Alliance.
Environmental groups, Resident Welfare Associations and waste recycling workers have been opposing the burning of these dioxins emitting hazardous waste in energy incinerators, set up in Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla. There is another one under construction in Narela-Bawana and Ghazipur.
Dioxins are a group of toxic chemicals known to increase the risk of cancer. According to a recent Singapore report, such incineration generates large amounts of heavy metals and dioxins and furans, especially from ferrous metals, plastics, textiles, and paperboard, which contribute significantly to polluting the environment.
The Okhla waste-to-energy plant started its trial run on January 3, 2012 as it received partial approval from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee during late 2011. Waste is sourced from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) areas for treatment.
Experts point out that the Technical Experts Evaluation Committee set up by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), to study the impact of waste-to-energy incinerator plants clearly states that the department did not give full permission to build this plant in the middle of a residential area.
Representatives of German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi had underlined during a meeting with the CPCB that there was a lack of transparency in terms of the environmental and health impact on residents.
“IIT-Delhi had said during the meeting that the disposal option for incineration instead of the proposed bio-methanation for green waste is in violation of what was mentioned in the environment impact assessment report. A case is pending in the high court for over three years. But still they have gone ahead with the operations,” added Krishna.
“Also, fugitive emissions and the expected emission of dioxins and furans have not been quantified for this plant. The characteristic of ash and required standards were not mentioned at all in the recent reports,” said an expert from the Centre for Science and Environment.
Residents expressed their unhappiness over the disturbances caused because of the plant. “Truck loads of waste from different parts of the city are dumped here which emits a bad stench. Also, the plant is noisy and emits smoke clouds which enter the residential area,” said a resident Naintara Deoraj. She added that many hospitals including Escorts and Apollo are against this plant.
Deoraj further pointed out that residents have written several letters to Jairam Ramesh, former Environment Minister who has been pursuing the case but nothing has changed so far.
13 July 2012