Online petition seeks shutting down of Okhla Waste-to-Energy plant

 Online petition seeks shutting down of Okhla Waste-to-Energy plant

Team L&M

An astounding 2,000 tonnes of unsegregated waste is burned every day in the Waste to Energy (WtE) plant at Okhla. At the receiving end are over 10 lakh residents living in and around the area who are forced to inhale the poisonous gases emanating out of it.

The Okhla incinerator emits gases like dioxins and furans, and heavy metals like lead, mercury and chromium besides ash and soot. Long-term exposure to these toxic emissions leads to allergies, asthma and even cancers.

Significantly, this WtE plant was commissioned despite a PIL by residents months before the foundation stone was laid in July 2010. Whats more: The plant is located on a green belt in the eco-sensitive zone of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary and within one kilometre of it are two hospitals – Holy Family and Fortis Escorts – that treat critically ill patients.

The residential colonies in the surrounding are Sukhdev Vihar, Ishwar Nagar, Jamia Nagar, Friends Colony, Jasola Village, Jasola Vihar, Sarita Vihar, Batla House, Sarai Julena, Masih Garh, Haji Colony, Johri Farms and Noor Nagar.

The guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the industrial siting guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change require waste incinerators to be located at least one kilometre away from human habitation.

“These WtE are responsible for polluting Delhi, but government conveniently ignores this fact and blames Punjab farmers instead,” says area resident Aslam Querishi.

The protesting people have also filed an online petition on – nearly 4000 people have already signed it – demanding the shutting down of this WeT plant. “After 10 years of futile litigation, we are knocking at the doors of the Supreme Court to save millions of Delhi residents from disease and premature death,” says the online petition.

Some of the points mentioned in the petition are:

♦ Environmental clearance was given for converting waste into refuse-derived fuel (RDF). This was switched to allow the factory to directly burn waste, endangering the lives 10 lakh people.

♦ The plant is located on a green area in Zone F7 of the Delhi Master Plan, earmarked for a community park. The Master Plan, in any case, does not provide for WtE incinerators.

♦ WtE plants must be located in industrial zones, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. But the Okhla WtE is in a residential area and just 45 meters from a long-established DDA colony, endangering the life of residents.

♦ Residents live in constant fear of the plant’s pressure boilers exploding. The plant has crammed three boilers into two smokestacks, threatening a dangerous blowback and explosions.

♦ The plant burns waste from the NDMC area which has land and resources but does not deal with its own waste in a NIMBY (not in my backyard) policy. South Delhi is made to suffer.


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