Okhla waste-to-energy plant faces legal actions over toxic emissions

Rally Against Incinerator Plant in Delhi

Inability to implement technologies to prevent toxic emissions is causing legal hurdles for the Okhla waste-to-energy plant in New Delhi, India.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has issued a show-cause notice to the plant for violating the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act after protests from residents in the nearby areas alleging that the technology used in the waste-to-energy plant does not meet the stipulated standards, Times of India reported.

The waste-to-energy plant was designed to burn 2010 tons of municipal solid waste or about 400 truck loads per day and produce energy worth 16 MW. This plant claims to burn 1/3 of Delhi’s waste.

Rally Against Incinerator Plant in Delhi

The issue dates back 2011 when experts found the technology used in the plant is not fit for eliminating toxic wastes from the plant. The EU has passed a resolution against this technology and the UN’s Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants seeks elimination of such technologies.

Incinerating of the wastes together – including plastics and metals – is leading to the release of toxic emissions like dioxins and furans that cause cancer and other serious health problems. However plant operators claimed they are using specially designed boilers to ensure complete combustion and the facilities use pollution control equipment to scrub emissions.

Following the complaint from the public, DPCC and Central Pollution Control Board scientists inspected the site on Friday and found several deficiencies. They also found the air quality around the plant hadn’t improved.

Sandeep Mishra, DPCC member secretary, told reporters of Times of India that the plant is also shut because their boiler is not working.

Residents and members of Toxic Watch Alliance, an environmental NGO, also submitted a complaint to CM Arvind Kejriwal at Janata Durbar on Sunday.

“DPCC has taken a major step by issuing the plant a show cause notice. After a long time they have take note of the genuine health concerns and environmental degradation that the plant is causing. We welcome this move. We have also received an acknowledgement of our complaint from the CM’s office on Sunday,” said Ranjit Devaraj of Sukhdev Vihar.