The residents of Jasola, Sukhdev Vihar and New friends Colony in south Delhi have been fighting a legal battle since 2009 demanding the closure or relocation of a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant in their area on accounts of pollution.
A WTE plant burns combustible waste of high calorific value to generate power, but it also produces two other by-products: ash and smoke/gas emissions. These emissions, called furans and dioxins, are considered deadly for human life and environment. Not only do they settle in the body and lead to reduced fertility, growth defects, immunosuppression and cancer but also considerably reduce the air quality.
In 2009, the Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association (RWA) filed a public interest petition at the Delhi High Court against the proposed plant. But it was still commissioned in 2011 by the Delhi government. The plant functions as a Special Purpose Vehicle called Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Company Private Limited. Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited is responsible for implementation of the project.
The plant received a notice from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on April 16, 2019. The notice stated that the environmental clearance was given to the Okhla WTE in 2007 to use refuse-derived fuel (RDF) to the tune of 600-720 tonnes per day and generate close to 16 megawatts of electricity, but upon inspection by an MoEFCC-appointed sub-committee in December 2018, it was found that the RDF intake of the plant was around 1,600 tonnes per day, with the plant producing close to 19 megawatts of electricity. The sub-committee also found that the plant had constructed a third stack/chimney and was producing way more power than allowed.
The case was transferred to the National Green Tribunal on January 23, 2013. The NGT allowed the plant to function on payment of a fine of INR 25 lakh for non-compliance with rules.
On March 24 2019, about 3,000 residents of the affected neighbourhoods took out a rally, demanding the closure of the plant. More than a million people live in the residential colonies surrounding the plant, which continues to function despite protests.
Residents of Sukhdev Vihar have claimed that the incinerator not just triggers pollution but is located dangerously close to the residential areas, at a distance of just around 45 metres. We have been demanding that the plant either be shifted or shut down. In the case of an explosion, it would be a disaster. A hearing is also going on in the Supreme Court. But amidst all this, the authorities have proposed to expand the plant and have already added a chimney. Khan, president of Sukhdev Vihar SFS (Pocket A) RWA, told Land Conflict Watch.
The Central Pollution Control Board, meanwhile, has sought monthly monitoring of pollutants released from the plant.
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Delhi Government, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, National Green Tribunal , South Delhi Municipal Corporation, New Delhi Municipal Council
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Sukhdev Vihar Residents' Welfare Association, National Alliance of People's Movements, Toxic Watch Alliance, Volunteers of Change
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited
Legislations Involved in the Conflict:
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?