Delhi’s bid to earn money through waste-to-power projects has been opposed by residents of neighbourhoods where the plants are coming up. Ragpickers, who believe the projects will cost them their livelihoods, are up in arms too.
The Delhi government has planned three projects — one each in Okhla, Timparpur and Ghazipur — to generate over 41 MW. The projects are registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United National Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) to earn credits on the carbon emissions saved to generate power.
“We earn Rs 50 to Rs 100 per day by lifting recyclable articles from garbage dumps,” said Raju Rajasthani, a ragpicker at the Bhalswa dump in north Delhi. “As the entire garbage would be treated in the plants, we will become redundant.”
Ragpickers have some support from the residents of Okhla, Jamia Nagar, Ghaffar Manzil, Abul Fazl Enclave and Noor Nagar, but for a different reason.
They are protesting against the location of the Okhla plant; it’s too close to their homes, they say. “The plant will kill the environment,” said Jamia Nagar resident KS Ahmed.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has asked Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to look into the objections. “If people are against them, their apprehensions should be dealt with,” he said. A ministry white paper said the plants will generate dioxins and other toxic emissions, which could harm public health.
“People’s concerns have been looked into. Some non-governmental organisations are creating problems,” said a civic official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.