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Okhla waste to energy plant's fate under National Green Tribunal's lens
The National Green Tribunal may pronounce a judgment on the Okhla waste-to-energy plant on Monday. Residents of Sukhdev Vihar are eagerly waiting for the hearing - probably the final one - on their petition against the incineration plant.
The residents, who have been protesting against the plant for allegedly releasing toxic emissions since 2003, have decided to write to NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar highlighting the concerns about the waste plant in their backyard and also how it is adding to Delhi's air pollution.
"The chairperson has asked us to come prepared at 3pm on Monday for a long hearing and judgment. That is why we have decided to present the issues in a letter," said Sukhdev Vihar resident UC Bahri, also a scientist. "We have already written to the chairman of the parliamentary committee on urban development, pointing that the plant violates the ministry's guidelines.
Such plants should be located at least 300-500m away from residential zones, according to the rules. But this plant is only 70m away from our colony," added Bahri. Most of their concerns have already been submitted before the tribunal, which has been hearing the petition since 2012.
The points include - the plant site is earmarked as a "green" zone in the master plan 2021, it is allegedly in violation of the Air Act, 1981, no public consultation was initiated with the residents before the plant came up, it violates the municipal solid waste rules, 2000, because such incineration technology is not approved by the Central Pollution Control Board, and many others.
"Delhi is already reeling under a pollution crisis. The Okhla plant, which is incinerating unsegregated waste, is adding massively to the problem. Also, they are using unauthorised technology," said Ranjit Devraj, another resident.
The RWA's letter will highlight that there are 15 lakh residents living in the vicinity of the plant. The RWA had first moved the Delhi HC against the plant in 2010, which later transferred the matter to NGT.
Even as residents have been complaining of fly ash that settles all over the colony and severe emissions that they are being exposed to, a lawyer representing one of the pollution control agencies said, "Initially dioxin and furan emissions from the plant were found to be high. But five inspections have been carried out since then and tests conducted for all parameters - they are meeting all standards now. The tribunal has asked for all inspection reports on Monday."