Okhla's Chinese incinerator based power plant case shifted to Green Tribunal, to be heard on March 11
Judicial delay takes a toll on human health and environment of Delhi residents
February 23, 2013, New Delhi: National Green Tribunal admitted the case of Okhla’s heavily polluting hazardous incinerator technology based power plant on February 22, 2013. It is being operated by 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. It is a case about a controversial carbon trade project in a densely populated residential area. The case which was filed by the residents’ welfare association (RWA) of Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla in the Delhi High Court from 2009 to 2013 was transferred to the Tribunal on January 23, 2013 despite having been listed for some hearing 27 times without any relief.
Tribunal announced that the matter has been admitted as Original Application No. 22/2013 (THC) Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association & Ors. Vs State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.
The order of the Tribunal reads: "This Petition has been received upon transfer from the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi at New Delhi in view of the terms of the order dated 23rd January, 2013. Surprising, nobody is present on behalf of the NCT of Delhi and others. Let this matter be listed on 11th March, 2013 for arguments. Let the Registry issue Notice to the counsel who were appearing for different parties in this Petition before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi. Registry may also inform the concerned authorities telephonically and through email as well. In this regard, the order of the Hon’ble High Court dated 03rd July, 2012 can be noticed. We grant liberty to the counsel appearing for the Petitioner to circulate a letter to all the other counsel appearing in the matter informing them of the next date of hearing.Four additional sets should be filed within one week from today." A copy of the order is attached.
The bench comprised of Hon'ble Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar, Chairperson, National Green Tribunal, Justice P. Jyothimani, judicial member and expert members, Dr. D. K. Agrawal, Dr. G. K. Pandey and Prof. A.R. Yousuf.
The report of the Union Environment & Forests Ministry constituted Technical Experts Evaluation Committee of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant has condemned the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant run by JITF Urban Infrastructure Limited (Jindal Ecopolis) as it has violated every rule in the rule book including environmental clearance conditions. It revealed to the Experts Committee in September 2011 that it is using untested and unapproved Chinese incinerator technology in complete violation all laws and environmental clearance of 2007 including its own project design document and environment impact assessment report. Chinese technology provider is from Hangzhou New Century Company Ltd of Hangzhou Boiler Group.
The plant faces bitter opposition from residents, waste pickers and environmental groups. Residential colonies of Sukhdev Vihar, New friends Colony, Maharani Bagh, Haji Colony and Ghaffar Manzil have been agitating against this plant that has been set lawlessly. Adjacent to the plant are major institutions such as the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), Apollo Hospital, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and the Holy Family Hospital, besides several schools such as the Dev Samaj Public School.
It is claimed on the company’s website that the waste based power plant is registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “for earning carbon credits.”
The company claims that the land on which the plant is operating “was transferred on lease by Government of Delhi from this 200 acre piece of land that had been earmarked for waste treatment facilities in Delhi's master plan back in 1920's.” The Municipal Solid Waste is being delivered by NDMC and MCD at the Okhla Power Plant site. Although it is claimed that “only non Hazardous Municipal Solid Waste will be treated at the facility”, the fact is Delhi’s mixed municipal waste has characteristics of hazardous waste.
There have been incessant demonstrations and protest rallies against this project. There is an ongoing campaign against it. The plant that has been built despite protest is 150 m from the residential areas. The area has a bird sanctuary, a university and three hospitals within a radius of 10 kilometres. All will be adversely affected by toxic fumes of the plant. The idea of waste to energy plants which is based on a tried, tested and failed incineration technology in Okhla.
Representatives of GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) led by Dr. Juergen Porst, Senior Advisor have stressed the need for a Disaster Management Plan in the very first meeting of the CPCB'sTechnical Expert Committee, which is annexed to the CPCB'sreport. But this does not find mention in the recommendations of the report. This finds reference in the minutes of the meeting annexed with the report. It underlines the possibility of disaster from the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant, which is situated in a residential area. It is noteworthy that a hazardous plant in Bhopal'ds residential area that led to world worst industrial disaster in 1984 also did not have any disaster management plan.
The report apprehended that the information that is submitted to the experts committee of CPCB might be used in the on-going case in the Delhi High Court. It makes a shocking revelation that although High Court has been hearing the case since 2009, the project proponent did not inform the court about gross deviations from the project design plan envisaged in the EIA report. As per the minutes of the second meeting of the technical experts committee, non-cooperative approach of the senior officials of Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant was condemned on August 11, 2011. Representatives of GTZ underlined that there was lack of transparency with regard to environmental and health impact on the neighborhood residents. It was also noted that the fugitive emissions and the expected emission of Dioxins and Furans has not been quantified. The characteristic of ash and required standards was not mentioned. Prof. T R Sreekrishnan, Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology stated that disposal option for incineration instead of bio-methanation proposed for green waste is in violation of what was mentioned in the EIA report.
In the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 9901 of 2009 in Delhi High Court, legal officials like Mr A S Chandiok Additional Solicitor General and Standing Counsel for the Delhi Government and for the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Najmi Waziri has been misleading and misrepresenting facts about waste to energy plants in Andhra Pradesh by saying that Refuse Derived Fuel incineration technology was already in use at Hyderabad and Vijayawada. The fact is that there is no plant in Hyderabad. The plant that became functional as per legal officials stands defunct is in Shadnagar, Mahboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh.
On 18th July, 2011, Delhi High Court asked 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,” ordered a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Delhi High Court. This has not been done so far. A bizarre situation has emerged because the arguments for Refuse Derived Fuel incineration technology that was advanced by the law officers is no more relevant because the plant is using an experimental Chinese technology which was never ever mentioned at the time of submitting the project proposal.
MCD, Delhi government and central government has shown unacceptable callousness towards hazardous emissions from municipal incinerators that cause serious environmental and health problems both to people living near them and thousands of kilometres from the source. These projects are destroying the livelihood of about 3.5 lakh waste recycling workers and valuable resource material for compost that is required to be treated by composting/anaerobic digestion/vermin composting/other biological processing for stabilization as per Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules.
On December 27, 2013, Subhash Chopra, a Member of Delhi Legislative Assembly wrote separately to Chief Minister of Delhi and Lt. Governor of Delhi, Tejender Khanna demanding inquiry into the toxic flay ash from the Jindal's large plant. Earlier, opposition party leaders of the BJP had also expressed apprehension over the location of such a plant in 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.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08002263335,
Vimal Monga, ex-President, Sukhdev Vihar Resident Welfare Association Mb: 9711408421
Asha Arora, Okhla Anti-incinerator Committee, Mb: 9810499277
Okhla Anti-incinerator Committee, http://www.facebook.com/home.