Okhla waste-to-energy plant not polluting, says National Green Tribunal
Residents of Sukhdev Vihar had petitioned the NGT, claiming that the plant was situated closed to residential colonies and posed a serious health and environmental hazard. The green court, however, imposed a fine of Rs 25 lakh on the company running the plant for non-compliance with rules until December 2014.delhi Updated: Feb 02, 2017 23:24 IST
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday allowed the waste-to-energy plant in Okhla to function, saying it was ‘non-polluting’ , but levied an environmental compensation of Rs 25 lakh for its earlier polluting ways.
“The waste-to-energy plant would be permitted to operate till further orders of the tribunal and/or CPCB/DPCC, as the case may be. The plant shall operate to its optimum capacity and would not cause any environmental pollution,” said the bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The bench said the plant need not shift to another locality or shut down as there was definite proof that it complied with all requirements and was non-polluting.
The petitioners called the verdict a “huge disappointment.” Residents of Sukhdev Vihar had filed a petition against the plant, alleging that it was releasing harmful and toxic emissions.
The residents said the plant authorities had initially said they would only use refuse-derived fuel and biogas to convert waste to energy when they sought environmental clearance but later burnt mixed waste, which polluted the air.
“It is definitely a huge disappoint. After seven years of litigation, three years in the high court and four years in the National Green Tribunal, we are saddened by the outcome. The plant is just 35 metres away from residential areas. It almost feels like the bench has not considered the medical consequences and health hazards... It feels one-sided,” said Ranjit Devraj, resident of the area and one of the petitioners.
The tribunal directed that the plant, under M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd, would be liable to pay an environmental compensation to the tune of Rs 25 lakh as its stack emission was in excess of the prescribed standard, and was found to be functioning inefficiently until December 2014.
The bench said the compensation will be paid to the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee in equal share.
Residents said the compensation was insufficient. “The major letdown is how the plant has been allowed to get away with such little reprimand. Rs 25 lakh is almost nothing. What if even one resident in the area gets cancer? It would probably cost the person much more than that,” said Devraj.
Devraj said the residents were considering moving the high court or even the Supreme Court. “But there is some ambiguity here. The NGT order says that the plant will be allowed to operate ‘till further orders of the tribunal and/or CPCB/DPCC.’ Does this mean we can’t move other courts in the matter? Whatever it is, we will definitely fight for justice in this matter,” he said.