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Hazardous Chinese technology causing health disaster for birds, residents of Okhla in Delhi & UP

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, June 01, 2013 | 1:24 AM

Delhi based agencies kept UP Govt and UP residents in dark about hazardous plant

Clearance not taken under Wild Life (Protection) Act

Yet another CPCB committee set up by NGT with limited mandate

New Delhi, June 1, 2013: Waste incinerating furnace technology of Hangzhou New Century Company Ltd of Hangzhou Boiler Group, a Chinese company has is causing environmental and public health disaster for birds and residents of Okhla. This unapproved and untested technology has illegally and illegitimately been used in the waste based power plant of 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 in the vicinity of ecologically fragile Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Park and the adjoining area of human habitation, academic institutions and hospitals.

The Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Park where the hazardous plant is situated was notified by Government of Uttar Pradesh vide Gazette Notification No. 577/14-3-82/89 dated May 8, 1990. In a glaring omission in the entire the process of setting up this municipal waste incineration based power plant the affected State of Uttar Pradesh and the Govt. of  UP was not even informed.

In a application submitted before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), it has been submitted that the Government of UP in 1990 in the exercise of power under S-18 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 had notified an area about 2 km east of Jindal’s municipal solid waste incineration based power plant at Sukhdev Vihar, as Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary. A copy of the notification No.577/14-3-82/89 dated May 8, 1990 is attached.  A picture of geographical location and boundaries of Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary as obtained from Google Map has also been submitted. It is also known that the Uttar Pradesh Government has declared a 10 Km distance from the periphery of this Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary as an Eco- sensitive zone. The boundary of Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary is about 1700 meters from the Municipal Solid Waste to Energy Plant, Sukhdev Vihar.

It is noteworthy that as required vide notification of Ministry of Environment and Forest no. S.O. 1533 dated September 14, 2006 the project proponent i.e. the Jindal company in question or the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in their public consultation have not obtained any response in writing from the Government of Uttar Pradesh having a stake in the environment aspect in operation of this 2050 tons per day Municipal Solid Waste to Energy incineration plant.

The application underlines that the public hearing was a farce and because the SDM office at Saket (not at the site in Okhla) where this so called public hearing happened not even one public person was present.

It is clear that the project proponent have obtained the Environment clearance  under the Environment Protection Act 1986 by misrepresentation and concealment in EIA report inter-alia the distance of Okhla’s residential colonies like Sukhdev Vihar to center of  WTE Site  is erroneously shown as 5.37 Km approximately. 

In a grave act of omission despite the fact that no clearance has been obtained by the project proponents under The Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972, their heavily polluting power plant is operating with impunity. This clearance is required independent of Environment (Protection) Act1986. It is for the State Govt. of UP to grant clearance under S- 29 and S-35 of The Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972. The company in question never ever applied for it. 

The adverse impact from the emissions from this hazardous power plant which is burning approximately 7.5 Lac tons per annum on inhabitants of the Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary and the degradation of its flora, fauna and the environment of the Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary is irreparable.

It is immensely significant to note that the evaluation of the Chinese technology which is being used in the power plant has never been for approval as is required under the Municipal Waste (Management and Handling) Rules farmed as per Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. This is done prior to allowing its use in such project.  

Unmindful of the concerns about imminent disaster, the NGT through its order dated May 28, 2013 has set up yet another committee comprising of the Member Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Member Secretary of DPCC, a representative of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Project Proponent. Notably, this committee does not have any independent representative from the environmental organizations or aggrieved residents.

It is also inexplicable as to how and why should a report of the committee comprising of CPCB member secretary be deemed superior to the report of the committee headed by CPCB’s Chairman set up by the order of Union Minister of Environment & Forests after visiting the site of the power plant. The committee headed by CPCB’s Chairman having independent representatives from among residents and environmental orgnisations and its report is more credible. If this report is sidelined in favour of a conflict of interest ridden committee, this will set a very unhealthy precedent.   

NGT order reads as if it is asking the residents to accept the existence of the hazardous power plant in their locality as a fait accompli ignoring the prayers made by the residents in their application.

NGT ought to note what Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) of India says in its report of 2008. It states that “Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 does not contain any provision for levying penalty on the generator of wastes or the operator of the facility for the collection, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of municipal solid wastes, if the

wastes are not disposed in the prescribed manner. Similarly, the Rules prescribe no penalty if the incinerator or landfills disposing municipal solid waste do not meet operating standards. Thus, there is no disincentive provided in the rules for the unsafe disposal of waste. (c) How early the Project Proponent can install the segregation plant to ensure effective segregation of MSW in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000.”

The project proponent in Okhla appears to be a beneficiary of this loophole. CAG has concluded that there is no deterrence for non-implementation of the rules, saying, “Non levy of penalty may result in no deterrence for illegal dumping of waste; which would have a harmful impact on health and environment.”

In the minutes of the meeting of the CPCB Chairman headed Committee, Prof. T R Shreekrishnan, Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, IIT, Delhi has observed that certain components of the initial EIA report of the Jindal’s plant in question such as biomethanization plants and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) plants have been removed while actually implementing the project. The reason for the same is not understood. Hence, the technology being provided is not an integrated approach of MSW management. This is yet another instance of a grave act of commission by the project proponent and the colluding agencies.

In March 20005, when waste incineration based power plant was proposed, it fraudulently claimed in its Project Design Document submitted to the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Executive Board that it is being done to earn carbon credits using RDF technology. Now midway through the project in wanton disregard for every rule and regulation an unapproved and experimental technology from China is being used. This plant is following the footsteps of Union Carbide Corporation. In the CPCB report on the Okhla plant, it is noted that the representatives of GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) led by Dr. Juergen Porst, Senior Advisor stressed the need for a Disaster Management Plan in the very first meeting but it 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’s residential area that led to world worst industrial disaster in 1984 also did not have any disaster management plan.

Representatives of GTZ underlined before the CPCB Chairperson headed committee 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 stated that disposal option for incineration instead of bio-methanation proposed for green waste is in violation of what was mentioned in the Environment Impact Assessment report.

Meanwhile, Jindal’s power plant based on burning of waste is pursuing unsound technological paths with total disregard towards the health of the citizens, environment and wildlife. Government agencies are colluding and misleading judicial institutions although the company does not have any previous experience of undertaking similar project.

It is abundantly stark that every rule in the rule book has been violated with no punitive consequence for the violators.  This sets a very bad precedent for the environmental governance in the country. Justice and relief remains illusory for the residents of colonies of Okhla including Sukhdev Vihar, Haji Colony, Gaffar Manzil, Jasola Vihar, Noor Nagar, Masih Garh, Johri Farms, and Sarita Vihar, hospitals such as Holy Family, Fortis-Escorts, Apollo Indraprastha besides the Okhla Bird Sanctuary and the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, Email:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Critique of the CPCB report
https://toxicswatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/twa-critique-of-the-report-central-pollution-control-board-on-waste-to-energy-incinerator.pdf
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