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Green tribunal seeks report on waste plant

Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 6th April, 2013

A Tribunal has asked the Delhi government to submit a report in three weeks to establish whether or not a waste-to-energy plant running at Okhla in South Delhi was causing harm to environment and public health.

The report, sources said, would decide the plant’s fate and have an impact on the plans by Delhi government and municipal corporation to introduce two more similar units at Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana road.

The Ghazipur plant is already running on trial and is likely to be commissioned soon. Residents of Sukhdev Vihar in Okhla had first approached the Delhi High Court in 2009 seeking closure of the plant, stating that it burnt waste and released harmful ‘dioxins’ into the air.

The high court in January this year transferred the case to the tribunal, even as the Delhi government maintained that the plant was safe. An expert committee, formed earlier to study the plant, told the tribunal on Thursday that it needed time for analysis of samples and preparation of a report. The tribunal allowed time but appointed advocate Rahul Chaudhary as local commissioner to ensure that samples were collected in his presence when the plant was operating at optimum capacity of 16 MW.

“The commissioner is supposed to randomly visit houses around the plant and notice if there was any ash residue. If ash is found, he will collect samples and send them for analysis,” the tribunal said. Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd is operating the plant that has the capacity to process 1300-tonnes of waste every day and generate 16 MW of electricity. 

The residents of Sukhdev Nagar, in their petition, have also argued that the plant was not financially viable. They claimed that Delhi’s waste, largely because of poor segregation, was not supposed to be fit for burning. One such plant had been shut down years ago.