Despite local residents repeatedly raising concerns over the “harmful effects of Okhla’s waste-to-energy plant on the environment and human health”, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has said two more such plants are under construction and the three will together “solve the problem of waste disposal in Delhi.”
The pollution watchdog of the Delhi government has given its consent to private firms to establish one plant each at Ghazipur and Bawana.
But in response to an RTI application filed by HT, the DPCC said, “There is no information available on the harmful effects of landfill sites and waste-to-energy plants on human life and Delhi’s environment in general.”
Residents of Okhla have filed various court cases, saying incinerating waste to generate electricity releases toxins.
Besides, those plants don’t function well as Delhi’s waste is not supposed to be too fit for burning because of poor segregation.
One such plant had to be shut only after a few days of operation many years ago. Even Delhi’s environment department website reads: “Delhi had one municipal waste incinerator, but it never worked because Indian waste has low calorific value and is unsuitable for incineration.”
The DPCC in its reply also said there was no information available on remedial measures taken or being taken to combat such effects.
The DPCC said it did not know which agencies were involved in taking waste to the overflowing landfill sites, where dumping has been banned.
Despite being the monitoring and licensing authority for landfills and other waste management facilities, the DPCC has also said in its reply that it did not have information regarding how much more waste the Capital’s landfill sites can take in.
It also revealed there was no information on plans to set up new landfills.
But the environment department website did hint at a serious crisis brewing. It said, “…Delhi’s landfill space is fast running out, so there will soon be no place the dump the waste, unless Delhiites produce less of it.”
It also read, “…solid waste has become a big concern. Improper and unscientific waste management leads to serious environmental and health problems.”
Dumping of waste at three sites - Ghazipur, Bhalaswa and Okhla - has been banned. Delhi, which generates 7,000 to 9,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste every day is now left with only one landfill on Narela-Bawana road. In addition, there are some composting plants and one incinerator.