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Chinese incinerator is poisoning food chain of residents & birds of Delhi’s Okhla

Written By Unknown on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | 5:16 AM

Okhla residents seek quashing of Environment Clearance granted to Jindal’s waste based power plant

National Green Tribunal to hear the matter on December 5

Chinese incinerator is poisoning food chain of residents & birds of Delhi’s Okhla  

November 13, 2013: Residents of Okhla are seeking quashing of Consent to Operate by Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Environment Clearance by Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) as both were granted on false claims made in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report– mainly Siting Criterion.  The matter came for hearing today before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Prior to NGT’s ongoing hearings, Delhi High Court heard this very matter 28 times since 2009. Environmental groups and waste recycling workers have also been demanding closure of the power plant 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.

The false claims of the company are as under:
   a) That Sukhdev Vihar (including DDA Flats and plotted colonies) is situated 6.5 km away from the centre of the plant when the colony actually shares a compound wall with the complex.
   b) The nearest distance is 100 metres whereas MoEF guidelines on siting industries clearly say that the minimum distance should be half km - and in the case of industries emitting odours at least one km.  
    c) The Waste To Energy (WTE) plant is less than half Km from the National Highway and major rail routes which is contrary to the Guidelines of Establishment of Industries issued by MoEF.   
    d) The location of the plant is contrary to the Master Plan of Delhi. It is sited on a Green Belt created as a buffer between the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) Okhla and the residential areas.   
   e) Municipal Waste Handling rules of 2000 specify a 500 km distance between a landfill and residential areas and require incinerators to be located on an existing landfill. The nearest landfill is in Tughlaqabad which is about 10 km away. 
   f) The WTE is polluting Okhla Mandi where vegetables and fruits are stored in the open/ semi covered structures. The Mandi supplies the fruits and vegetables to the whole of South Delhi and is vulnerable to toxic ash which contain heavy metals (such as lead, cadmium and mercury).  
   g) That the plant is surrounded by major hosptials – Holy Family Hospital, Escorts-Fortis Heart Cares Institute and Apollo Indraprastha.
    h)  That the WTE proponents never cared to obtain clearance from the National Board for Wildlife although the plant it is situated 1700 metres away from the western boundary of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Park, which is managed by the Uttar Pradesh government.  This has been pointed out to NGT in an affidavit by the UP government.

It may be recalled that the Okhla residents had filed Writ Petition No. 9901 of 2009 on 23-5-2009 before the  High Court of Delhi before the construction of the MSW -Waste to Energy Plant at Sukhdev Vihar  praying  for stoppage of construction of the proposed Waste-to-Energy Plant close to Okhla STP, which is surrounded by number of residential colonies, removal of the existing plant of any type being run in that area to some other area, seeking action against the concerned officers who planned this plant for this area and recover the cost from them in their personal capacity.

The High Court vide its order dated 15-9-2010 was pleased to direct that “Any action taken by the respondents shall be subject to the result of this Writ Petition.” 

The plant in question was given environment clearance on 21-3-2007 by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. While the matter was listed for final hearing before the High Court , DPCC  gave  consent to operate  in Jan 2012 ( the document as known is not in the public domain) and the WTE started operating from January 2012 while the matter was continuing  on Board of  High Court for final disposal. This Writ Petition was transferred to National Green Tribunal vide the order of the High Court dated 23-1-2013 and numbered as NGT Application No. 22 of 2013.

Since the WTE has been granted consent to operate and has started operating full scale, Okhla residents have moved an application in the NGT seeking to amend its prayers and also to bring on record new facts which have come to knowledge during the course of the proceedings.

The amended application points out that “The boundary of Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary is about 1700 Meters from the Municipal Solid WTE Plant Sukhdev Vihar.” Notably, there are total 26 recognized Ramsar sites in India. Okhla Bird Sanctuary should be made India’s 27th Ramasar site to ensure its protection and conservation from encroachments and industrial pollution.

It has brought on record “A recent study carried out in Spain with the objective to investigate inter-alia whether there might be excess cancer mortality in towns situated in the vicinity of Spanish –based incinerators.” The conclusion of the study is “Our results support the hypothesis of a statistically significant higher risk, among men and women alike, of dying from all cancers in towns situated near incinerators and hazardous treatment plants, and specifically, a higher excess risk in respect of tumors of the stomach, liver, pleura, kidney and ovary. Furthermore , this is one of the first studies to analyze the risk of dying of cancer related with specific industrial activities in this sector at a national level , and to highlight the excess risk observed  in the vicinity of incinerators……..”

The amended application submits that the High Court vide its order dated 12-8-2009 on the erroneous statement of the Additional Solicitor General that “the project in question is one of the pilot projects recommended by the Expert Committee appointed by the  Supreme Court and two similar projects at Vijaywada and Hyderabad as recommended by Committee have started functioning” was pleased to dismiss the Writ Petition and the application of stay. The residents of Okhla filed a Review Petition No. 448 of 2009 of the order dated 12-8-2009 which was allowed vide the order dated 15-1-2010 and the matter was restored to its original position noting that “Present Writ Petition was disposed of on August 12, 2009 on the respondents statement that the project in question was one of the pilot project recommended by the Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court. However, from the documents placed on record along with the Review Petition as well as reply filed by NDMC, it is apparent that though the technology for the project was approved by the Supreme Court, the location of the pilot project in Delhi was neither recommended by the Expert Committee nor approved by the Supreme Court”. 

Notably, the High Court directed vide its order dated 15-9-2010 that “Any action taken by the respondents shall be subject to the result of this writ petition.”

Flawed basis of environment clearance and consent to operate are as under:-
1)      MoEF had granted environment clearance on 21-03-2007 while the matter was being heard at the Delhi High Court and without waiting for final hearing.  Plant started operating on January 2012, again while the DHC was hearing the PIL and pending final order. 
2)      The original clearances were granted for refuse derived fuel (RDF) technology but the proponents deviated from it. This came to light during appraisal ordered by Jairam Ramesh while minister MoEF. The expert Committee constituted on 26-4-2011 by the CPCB confirmed the following deviations in the technology.
Deviations conditions mentioned environment clearance and consent to operate are as under:-
Sl No
Environment clearance
Process at Okhla plant – 1300 TPD (650X2) of mixed garbage + 100 tons TPD green waste – Timarpur plant -650 TPD.       Total RDF produced = 225X3=675 TPD.   The RDF was the main fuel for WTE.  There was to be a pelletizing facility for RDF. There was to be a  bio-methanation plant
There is no production of RDF in the process at WTE. The RDF plant at Timarpur has not been established – There is no green waste and no bio-methanation.

Power plant – single boiler / single turbine.
Now there are three boilers for the power plant and two chimneys.
Plant for firing Methane gas produced from bio-methanation plant.
There is no bio-methanation plant.
The CV (Calorific Value) of the Fuel was to be 2600 kcal/kg +/- 100kcal/kg.
Presently there is no measurement of CV and the MSW is just burnt. 
During screening of MSW through (-) 15 m.m size the smaller fraction will be separated out and sold as soil enricher etc.
There is no such process
In case of deviation or alteration in the project including the implementing agency, a fresh reference should be made to MoEF for modification and for ensuring environmental protection.
The environment clearance was given to IL & FS while the project was subsequently sold to Jindal Infrastructure Ltd, which took no fresh environment clearance is taken

Delhi Government’s decision of setting up the said project is ill conceived, and blatantly ignores the present demography of the surrounding areas of the proposed site.  How can the government allow construction of such a hazardous project amidst residential colonies while ignoring the current geography of the area? 

It is noteworthy that the Jindal’s plant is located amidst dozens of densely pullulated residential colonies like Sukhdev Vihar, Noor Nagar, Masih Garh, Hazi Colony, Gaffar Manzil, Johri Farm and parts of Jamia University etc.  The nearest human settlement is just 100 meters from the proposed site.  Besides this, the site is in proximity of hospitals like Holy Family, Fortis-Escorts and air, the under-ground water in the entire area will be poisonous and it is nothing but denying the right to life to the residents of these colonies.  Studies on the workers at incinerator plants and population of the nearby colonies have identified a wide range of health hazards. The land given to the developer for setting up this project once used to be the compost plants run by MCD and  NDMC, which were abandoned long back.  The compost plant was set up in the area when there were no population/colonies around the site.  However, with the passage of time, the scenario has entirely changed with the coming up of densely populated colonies such as Sukhdev Vihar, Noor Nagar, Masih Garh, Haji Colony, Gaffar Manzil, Johri Farm, Noor Nagar, Jasola Vihar, Sarita Vihar etc.

This plant will emit large quantities of hazardous emissions (such as dioxins) due to burning of MSW, and will profoundly affect the health of the people living in the surrounding areas and environmental for all times to come in future.

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 Government of UP can ensure closure of this illegitimate and illegal plant, it will enhance its credibility and prestige before the environmental movement. So far no action has been taken penalizing the Jindal’s plant for its acts of omission and commission and violation of all the rules in the rule book.

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, the most toxic substances known to mankind. This plant is owned by Prithviraj Jindal who won an open tender in 2008 to build and operate the plant for 25 years. The owner has ignored the disastrous environmental health consequences of its operations.

Government of UP and the Tribunal must consider declaring the construction of the waste incineration based power plant merely 1.7-km away from the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, situated at the entrance of Noida in Gautam Budh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh as illegal and initiate action against it for its acts of omission and commission. Even before NGT could gain stature for saving environmental and human health it appears to be suffering erosion due to delay in its efforts to close down the plant.  

NGT is yet to take cognizance of the 31 page report of the Technical Experts Evaluation Committee of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant constituted by Union Environment & Forests Minister condemned the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant by JITF Urban Infrastructure Limited (Jindal Ecopolis) 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 municipal corporation and the State Government is complicit in allowing such a plant. 

It is noteworthy that Union Minister for Environment & Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan has admitted in Rajya Sabha that “complaints were received against the incineration of municipal waste and its likely harmful effects on the air quality and health of people in the Sukhdev Vihar/Okhla area due to the emissions from Waste-to–Energy plant at Okhla… on four occasions out of ten, levels of Particulate matter (PM) exceeded the standard of 150 mg/Nm3” however “the Minister said that as per the Central pollution Control Board, the technology being used by the Waste-to-Energy plant at Okhla is as specified in the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000.” This is far from truth as is evident from the CPCB’s report which is now in public domain.  

In the CPCB, MoEF’s report, Dr A B Akolkar, Director, CPCB emphasized that as per Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules ‘biodegrdable waste’ is to be treated using biological method rather than deriving RDF or by incineration as is being done by Jindal Ecopolis. This clearly demonstrates that the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant violates the Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules framed under Environment Protection Act, 1986.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 09818089660, E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Note: Green Tribunal’s order in contempt of Supreme Court in Jindal’s waste incinerator case http://www.toxicswatch.org/2013/09/green-tribunals-order-in-contempt-of.html
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