State adopted outdated waste management techniques, say experts
Environmentalists today doubted the authenticity of the 2012 State Level
Environment Impact Assessment Authority (EIAA) report approving the
setting up of incinerator-based municipal solid waste thermal power
plants across eight clusters in the state.
They also expressed concern over the harmful effects of the outdated
municipal solid waste (MSW) management techniques being adopted by the
Addressing a workshop on MSW management here in Jalandhar, Delhi-based
environmentalist and public policy expert Gopal Krishna said the
incinerator technology was discarded by western and European countries
20 years ago and had failed in 24 projects set up in India after 1986.
He said opting for the outdated technology could lead to health hazards as dangerous as ‘chemical warfare’.
“The EIA report indicates the plants of dioxins emitting nature being
proposed in a residential area unmindful of the fact that pollutants are
passengers without passports that would enter the food chain and harm
many future generations,” said Krishna.
He said solid waste companies were keen to set up MSW thermal power
plants in the state as they were eying a subsidy of Rs 1.5 crore per MW
to be issued by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for setting up
of a waste-to-power plant. However, they would not succeed as the
technology had been banned by the Supreme Court due to its harmful
They said the setting up of incinerator-based power plants would bear no
results as it was not suitable for the processing of waste produced in
Punjab. They said around 78 per cent waste produced in the state
constituted inert material (up to 53.9 per cent) and compostable matter
(up to 30.84 per cent) which could not produce electricity because of
its low calorific value.
“While the chemical composition of solid waste produced in Punjab is up
to 1009.90 Kcal only; the waste required to produce electricity should
be of calorific value higher than 2000 kcal,” they said.
Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal today joined the movement,
launched by SAD MLA Pargat Singh, to transfer the site of a solid waste
SAD MLA Pargat Singh said, “The state government should check the claims
made by environmentalists on the harmful effects of the outdated
technology and should also consider the concern of local residents.”
Another environmentalist Sudhir Sharma said a study conducted on people living around 72 incinerators showed that those living in 10 km of an incinerator, refinery and waste disposal site are most likely to have laryngeal cancer and other cancers specifically of stomach, colorectal, liver and lung.
Tribune News Service
Questions raised on waste-to-energy plant
Gopal Krishna of Toxic Watch raised questions not only on the location of the proposed plant, but also compared it to chemical warfare stating it was a "tried, tested and failed" technology.
He pointed out that a white paper issued by the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had already made it clear that the technology being used for setting up the plant was not suitable for generating power.
"When the technology has already been rejected by the MoEF in the Indian context then why is it being tried here?" he asked. Jalandhar municipal corporation joint commissioner Rajeev Verma was also present during the seminar.
I P Singh
‘Punjab opting for outdated technology’
Terming the incinerator technology (burning of solid waste to produce electricity) opted by the Punjab Government to set up thermal power plants in all the eight clusters of state environmentalist and public policy expert Gopal Krishna said, “The state is opting for outdated technology that has been discarded by Western world around 20 years ago.” Also, he said, “The technology is banned by the Supreme Court as due to non segregation of the solid waste, it leads to the emission of the toxic gases like dioxin in the air.”
He also said that if state government goes ahead with the proposed technology, it could have serious implications like that of a ‘chemical warfare’ on the health of the people in the state.
Villagers raised serious doubts over the authenticity of environment impact survey conducted by a private consultant in 2011. They said that when they asked consultant about identifying the north direction of the site, they failed to do so in the public hearing held on September 30 in 2011. Also, the consultant failed to reply on the distance of nearest residential area from the proposed site, the distance to nearest Gurudwara, distance of Nanak Pindi village and many other queries pertaining to the facts mentioned in the survey report.
While revealing the harmful impact of millions of tonnes of solid waste lying untreated in the state, health expert Dr AS Azaad said untreated waste releases toxic emissions in the air that has affected the reproductive system and the physical and mental health of unborn babies in the state. “Various studies have shown that due to various environmental hazards, the sperm count in Punjab has reduced to half in the last 50 years. Also, it has affected the health of unborn children in the mother’s womb,” claimed Azaad. He also said earlier the sperm count was around 113 million that has now reduced to almost half, including dead sperms and also abnormal sperms. He said, “Presently, only 30 per cent sperm are presently effective as compared to the ones 50 years ago.”
Govt should review the technology
Apart from the environmentalists and political leaders, noted industrialists from the sports, leather, hand and tool, farmers, sarpanchs of various villages and social welfare organisations participated in the workshop.