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India's first waste-to-energy plant generates heat

Sunday May 22, 2011 06:35:27 PM, Abu Zafar , IANS

The under construction Timarpur okhla waste to energy plant.

(Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: India's first waste-to-energy plant, touted as an answer to the waste and electricity woes of the capital, will start operations from July. But people living near the site are up in arms over the Rs.200 crore project's high environmental and health costs - something the company denies. The Timarpur Okhla Municipal Solid Waste Management plant is a private-public partnership project of the the Jindal ITF Ecoplis and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

The project is spread over a two-acre landfill in Okhla in south Delhi. About 70 percent of the construction is complete.

Once completed, the plant will produce 16 MW of electricity, enough to serve six lakh homes, from about 2,050 tonnes of solid waste, which is 25 percent of the waste generated in Delhi every day.

However, residents of Jamia Nagar, Okhla, Jasola, Sukhdev Vihar, New Friends Colony and other nearby areas are worried that the fumes released through the chimneys will contain poisonous chemicals, and harm both environment and human health.

Syed Ishrat Hussain Zaidi, a resident of Haji Colony, next to the plant, says the government should have thought about the health ramifications of the plant.

"The government should have conducted tests on pollution before setting up the plant. Human lives are more important than any factory. We are already suffering due to a bio-gas plant in the area. There is a foul smell and we can't breathe," added Zaidi.

Farheen Akhtar, a resident of Jasola Vihar, said: "The plant will convert this densely populated area into a pollution hotbed. The trucks bringing solid waste to the plant will cause traffic snarls, and add to air and sound pollution in the area."

The residents had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court against the project in 2009. The case will be heard Monday.

Counsel for the residents K.K. Rohatgi said the plant is illegal.

"There is no legality to run this kind of plant in residential areas. We want the construction of the plant to stop immediately," Rohtagi told IANS.

Asif Mohammad Khan, legislator of Okhla constituency, says it was the job of the environment ministry to look into the project's pollution risks.

"What can I do? I don't know about technicalities related to the project," said Khan.

But Allard M. Nooy, CEO of Jindal ITF Ecopolis, says the plant poses no danger to the residents and the environment.

"There is no question of health hazard. We are responsible to the community as well as our reputation as citizens. To control air pollution, we have installed the best equipment available in the world and half the total project amount is being spent to control pollution," Nooy told IANS.

Nooy says this project is the first commercial waste-to-energy facility in India, and is similar to projects in countries kile the US, Britain and France.

"The project is registered with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for earning carbon credits," he added.

Following several protests by residents, Environment Minster Jairam Ramesh had visited the site last month.

He had said it was a difficult choice for him because 70 percent of the construction work has been completed, but he can only ensure the best possible technology is used in the factory. He had also asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prepare a detailed report on the plant.

According to environmentalists, the project is a hazard not only for nearby residents but for all residents of Delhi.

"It is a hazard for all residents of Delhi because of pollutant dioxins. Incinerator plants should not be allowed in any locality and a biological treatment method should be adopted for waste management," said Gopal Krishna of Toxic Alliance Watch.

(Abu Zafar can be contacted at




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