The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has sent a show-cause notice to the company running the Okhla waste-to-energy (WTE) plant in southeast Delhi, asking it to explain “why its Environmental Clearance (EC) granted in 2007 should not be kept in abeyance”.
The letter, a copy of which is with HT, is dated April 16 and signed by S Kerketta, director with the MoEF. The ministry has asked M/s Timarpur Okhla Waste Management Company Pvt Ltd to respond to the notice within 15 days. An environmental clearance is mandatory for a WTE plant to operate.
The notice was served after several violations of the EC granted were observed by a team inspecting the Okhla plant on December 15, 2018. The team, headed by Navin Chandra, chairman of the Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC), Thermal Power Projects, was constituted by the MoEF in November, 2018.
The notice by the MoEF reads, “…the Ministry has taken cognizance that the increase in waste input to the incinerators which will add to the pollution load, rise in installed power generation, construction of new chimney without Ministry’s permission, failure to set up a bio-methanation plant at Okhla and RDF plant at Timarpur are (all) non-compliance to the terms and conditions of the Environmental Clearance granted dated 21.03.2007 (sic).”
“Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, you are hereby directed to show cause why the EC should not be kept in abeyance,” the notice reads.
When contacted, Sandip Dutt, general manager of the Okhla plant, said, “Everything (all the operations at the plant) is in line. We have received no letter from the MoEF so far.”
The MoEF notice quotes the report, submitted by the team led by Chandra, as saying, “The plant is surrounded by habitations at close distance in all directions. A boiler capacity of 3x26 TPH is producing steam of 100-110 TPH indicating overloading of municipal solid waste to the incinerators. A bio-methanation plant at Okhla as proposed has still not been set up. A waste processing unit to generate RDF fluff at Timarpur is still not installed.”
It further says, “(As opposed to the sanctioned single stack/chimney of 60 m height), two stacks of 50 m height are installed for dispersion of flue gases. Even gates of waste storage pits are not closed leading to leakage of odour in the area.”
The Okhla WTE plant serves areas under the jurisdiction of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which together produce about 3,936 tonnes of mixed garbage per day. The plant, which turns garbage into electricity via incineration, has been at the centre of protests by locals for long due to alleged emissions violations and causing pollution in the area.
On March 24, about 3,000 residents of Jasola, Sukhdev Vihar, New Friends Colony and adjoining neighbourhoods had taken out a rally, demanding that the plant be shut down.
Vinayak Malik, secretary of Sukhdev Vihar Welfare Association, said locals have been crying hoarse that the WTE plant is too close to habitation which the MoEF notice has acknowledged now. “All the deviations — height of the chimneys, the number of boilers or incinerators installed and the amount of waste going into them — we have been talking about them for so long,” Vinayak maintained.
First Published: Apr 22, 2019 06:07 IST