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Green Tribunal’s order banning incineration of plastic waste is welcome but...

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 | 3:24 AM


Green Tribunal’s order banning incineration of plastic waste is welcome


Order should apply to technologies which are burning waste in Okhla,
Ghazipur & Narela-Bawana for power generation



Tribunal to hear case against Okhla power plant based on waste burning



New Delhi: While National Green Tribunal’s order prohibiting
incineration of plastic waste is welcome but if it does not apply to
the municipal waste to energy incinerators functioning in Okhla,
Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana in the name of power generation it will 


end up being an act of empty symbolism. Incidentally,

the residants have been pursuing agitation and the case seeking
closure of waste incineration plant that burns plastic laden garbage
in the Sukhdev Vihar residential area which is surrounded by
university, schools, hospitals, bird sanctuary and several other
residential areas of Okhla.



Judicial delay has led to similar mixed waste burning plants have come
up in Narela-Bawana and Ghazipur. 

These three waste to energy incinerators in National Capital Territory
of Delhi are in violation of the Supreme Court order in Writ Petition
(Civil) 888 of 1996. In the matter of Okhla's waste to energy plant
even Shri Jairam Ramesh, the then Union Environment Minister had
written a letter to the Chief Minister of Delhi following a site visit
on March 30, 2011 and meeting with residents on on 31st March, 2011.



Tribunal ought to intervene urgently to prevent public health disaster
due to biomedical waste incinerator plant and the construction of
municipal waste to energy incinerator plant in the Okhla area in
particular and in Delhi in general. Such unprecedented health crisis
has been witnessed in Gandhumguda village, Peeranchery Panchayat,
Ranga Reddy district in Andhra Pradesh where SELCO company ran its
waste to energy incinerator plant. The same was brought to the notice
of the Supreme Court's Waste to Energy Committee by the residents and
the author of this letter following which the Court only approved
biomethanation technology. This order echoes the recommendations in
the White Paper and the Technical Report.



It has not been disclosed that the projects handled by M/s Jindal
Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group
Limited is facing bitter opposition from residents, environmental
groups and waste pickers.



This plant is situated not only in the proximity of New Friends
Colony, Maharani Bagh, Sukhdev Vihar and the business district Nehru
Place - but also several prominent institutions, including hospitals
like Apollo, Escorts and Holy Family.  But disregarding these, as also
a number of binding guidelines from multiple state agencies and at
least one Supreme Court directive, the plant has come up, under the
shade of slack regulation, at one-tenth the cost of a world-class
waste-to-energy facility, deploying China-made equipment and
inadequately provisioning for toxic by-products of incineration. It is
strange that the Delhi government is backing the project as a
technology solution to the city's two enduring, and worsening,
problems - excess of waste and shortage of power. But while
contributing to the solution of two problems, the plant kindles a
number of new ones, with potentially serious health and environment
implications for the residents of Delhi.



Unmindful of such concerns, Jindal Saw Group Managing Director,
Indresh Batra, who runs the Jindal group unit responsible for the
controversial plant claims, "Our plant uses the latest technology. It
is absolutely safe. Such plants exist around the world in the middle
of cities. In Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower, there is a plant."
Batra and his group - the companies owned by the family of Prithviraj
Jindal, Batra's father-in-law and son of the late OP Jindal - won an
open tender in 2008 to build and operate the plant for 25 years at a
project cost of Rs 240 crore.  The polluting potential of a plant
using municipal solid waste as fuel is serious. Emissions include
suspended particulate matter (SPM), sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen
oxides (NOx), hydrogen chloride (HCl), and dioxins and furans, which
are among the most toxic substances known to science.



The same is true about GMR Energy Ltd's New Delhi Waste Processing
Company Private Ltd (now renamed as Indraprastha Energy and Waste
Management Company Private Limited), Joint venture of Govt.of Delhi
and IL & FS for the “Implementation of Integrated Municipal Solid
Waste Processing (MSW) (waste to energy) complex” on BOOT basis at
Ghazipur, Delhi. A case has been filed against it by the residents in
the Delhi High Court. The matter is listed for hearing on January 12,
2012. A statement on GMR website reveals "DIAL-SELCO consortium
participated in the BID and emerged as winner in the BID. The proposed
project is being setup on 5.73 acres of Land at Ghazipur, East Delhi
owned by Delhi Power Company Limited (DPCL), which has been given on
lease basis to GMR's East Delhi Waste Processing Co. Pvt. Ltd.



It may be noted that minutes of the Supreme Court appointed
Environment Pollution (Prevention &Control) Authority for the NCR
(EPCA)  reads, “…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".
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.



The same manual reveals the chemical composition of Indian waste has
the calorific value of 1009.89 kcal/kg to 800.70 kcal/kg with moisture
content ranging from 25.81 % to 38.72 % and organic matter ranging
from 37.09 % to 39.07 %.



It has been established that everything organic has a ratio of carbon
to nitrogen (C:N) in its tissues. It is the combination of materials
that creates the ideal climate for compost microbes-a C:N ratio of
30:1. In such a context, a Technical Report titled "Environmental
Audit of Municipal Solid Waste Management, June 2006" infers, "we can
deduce the Indian waste has a high content of organic matter, which
makes it suitable for processes like composting and anaerobic
digestion.  The C/N ratio is between 20-30 and this ratio is very
suitable for composting (Eiland, et al, 2001). The waste also has a
high moisture content which makes it unsuitable for incineration." The
audit was done with financial assistance from the Union Ministry of
Science and Technology.



The waste to energy incinerator projects does not make municipal solid
waste disappear or minimize inert residue instead they maximize it.
They encourage waste generation and current patterns of production and
consumption, which are at the root of solid waste problems. They are
the most costly of all solid waste management options; result in air
and water pollution, and still need to be supplemented by landfills as
they produce an ash that is far more toxic than ordinary domestic
trash. This has not been disclosed.
Even with waste to energy incinerators NCR will still need landfills
for ash disposal and construction wastes. Ash can comprise about 25%
by weight of an incinerator’s throughput and must be landfilled. Thus,
incineration means incineration plus landfill. There are two kinds of
by-pass waste: bulky materials that do not fit into the incinerator
(such as mattresses), and collected waste that cannot be burned when
the incinerator is down for regularly scheduled or unscheduled
maintenance. These materials typically require landfilling in
communities that have built incinerators.



The CPCB website that the EPCA monitors implementation of action
points enlisted in the "White Paper on Pollution with an Action Plan"
of the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests. 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."



It is clear from Environmental Ministry's White Paper and the
Technical Report prepared with assistance from Ministry of Science and
Technology that MCD's “waste load” and its mishandling by the
aforementioned contractors will distort the municipal solid waste
management beyond repair. From the minutes of the meeting of the EPCA,
it is evident that MCD is relying on failed technology in the
following projects:
1. 2050 Metric Ton project at Okhla by Jindal.
2. 1000 Metric Ton project at Narela-Bawana by Ramky.
3. 1300 Metric Ton project at Ghazipur by GMR.



It has not been disclosed that Ramky Enviro Engineer Ltd proposes to
process 4000 MT of waste in two phases using RDF incineration
technology in Narela-Bawana adjacent to Sannaut village of Delhi and
other residential areas. Having visited the plant site and having
interacted with the villagers, one found that they are protesting
against the proposed Dioxins emitting plant.



Delhi generates approximately 8500 MT of municipal solid waste daily.
It is estimated that after all these 3 plants would be functional they
will require approximately 7300 MT of waste to produce the projected
amount of energy leaving only about 1200 MT of waste to share between
private contractors and waste-pickers.



The municipal waste to energy incinerator in the residential area is
based on hazardous incinerator technology that emits persistent
organic pollutants like Dioxins and toxic heavy metals like Mercury.
Incinerators are tried, tested and failed technology.



The ongoing protest rallies and an online campaign on Facebook - Okhla
ka Ghosla- against the toxic, waste-to-energy incinerator where
students are also participating in large numbers underlines that the
operation of Jindal’s waste burning based power plant is an act of
environmental lawlessness in the heart of the national capital. If
Tribunal ensures closure of this illegitimate and illegal plant, it
will enhance its credibility and prestige before the the environmental
movement.



For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb:9818089660
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