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Jindal's Waste based Power plant threat to Okhla bird sanctuary: UP

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, September 16, 2013 | 2:16 AM

Note:National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of August 14, 2003 which put a stop to all illegal constructions in a 10-km radius of Okhla Bird Sanctuary at the Okhla barrage over Yamuna River on Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border is applicable to the waste incineration based power plant of M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited that is facing bitter opposition from residents, environmental groups and waste pickers of Delhi. 
The plant is just 1.7-km away from the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is situated at the entrance of Noida in Gautam Budh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh. Migratory birds fly to the sanctuary from Tibet, Europe and Siberia in October and November to escape the extreme cold and harsh environment and get good nourishment. They usually leave around the middle of March when ambient temperatures start to rise above 30 - 35 deg C. 
The plant is situated at a distance of less than 50-100 meters from the residential colonies. Toxic cocktail of ash emitting Jindal’s waste based power plant is inaptly sandwiched between the  fragile eco sensitive zone and several vulnerable residential colonies, educational institutions and hospitals. This hazardous plant has an adverse impact on a large number of transcontinental migratory birds that visit the Okhla sanctuary. Their numbers have decreased over the years. Among nearly 319 species of birds found here, more than 50% are migratory. An area of 3.5 square kilometres on the river Yamuna was notified as a bird sanctuary by the Government  of Uttar Pradesh under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 in 1990. Okhla sanctuary has mammals like Neelghais, Jackals, Mongooses, Rats & Mice along with reptiles like turtles, tortoises, geckos, monitor lizards, garden lizards, rat snakes, vine snakes, water snakes and also amphibians like toads and frogs.

Not only that there is a large lake which lies sandwiched between Okhla village towards the west and Gautam Budh Nagar towards the east, the impact of the plant on this water source was not been disclosed in the Environment Impact Assessment report of the plant. This plant does not have the required mandatory clearances from the National Board for Wildlife. The sanctuary is approachable from Mathura Road (NH-2), via Sarita Vihar going towards NOIDA. 

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
 
The Uttar Pradesh government has said a waste-to-energy plant is running within the 10-km eco-sensitive zone of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary without the approval of the National Board for Wildlife (NBW). 
In an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal, the UP government has said that action can be taken for this violation. Its inspection has found that the plant lies 2km from the sanctuary.
The plant falls in the Delhi government’s area of jurisdiction while the sanctuary lies in UP.
“The tribunal may pass an order through which the provisions of eco-sensitive zone can be invoked,” the affidavit said.   
The plant burns waste to produce electricity at Sukhdev Vihar in Okhla. The sanctuary is located where the Yamuna leaves Delhi and enters UP. On May 8, 1990, the UP government declared 400 hectares of the land as a bird sanctuary (protected area) though it hasn’t declared the 10-km area around the sanctuary an eco-sensitive zone.
But citing an SC order and frequent guidelines issued by the ministry of environment and forests, it said, “It is absolutely clear that the plant should have taken clearance from the NBW.” The plant does have clearance from the forest ministry.
The UP government filed the affidavit after a group of residents from Sukhdev Vihar filed an application and alleged that emissions from the plant were hazardous for the sanctuary. Hearing an earlier application filed by the same group, the tribunal on Tuesday had warned that the plant can face closure if it did not improve pollution-control measures in three weeks.
Both matters will be heard on October 10.
A committee formed by the UP government has advised the 1-km area around the sanctuary be declared an eco-sensitive zone. The recommendations will be placed before the UP cabinet before being sent to the Centre .
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