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 wastetoenergy (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 byproducts: 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 writ petition at the Delhi high court against the proposed plant. The court, in its order dated August 12, 2009, dismissed the petition based on the submission of the state that the necessary permissions have been obtained from the concerned authorities and that the technicalities adopted were similar to projects in Vijayawada and Hyderabad. Thereafter, an application was filed before the high court to review its earlier in which it had dismissed the petition. However, in 2011, the Delhi government gave permission for the plant to be operational based on the necessary certification(s) granted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. The plant functions as a Special Purpose Vehicle called TimarpurOkhla Waste Management Company Private Limited. Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited is responsible for the implementation of the project. Thereafter, the case was transferred to the National Green Tribunal on January 23, 2013, on the order of the Delhi high court, which recorded the reasons for the transfer as follows: First, the subject matter of the writ petition concerned matters covered in Schedule I of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 ('the Act'). Second, the transfer of a petition filed before the Act came into force, as the case in this matter, was as per the directions of the Supreme Court in Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sangathan v. Union of India. In its order of February 2017, the NGT** allowed **the plant to function subject to payment of a fine of INR 25 lakh for the violations as set out in Sections 15 and 17 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. 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, which can spell disaster in the case of an explosion. A hearing is is ongoing in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the authorities have proposed to expand the plant adding a chimney, Khan, president of Sukhdev Vihar SFS (Pocket A) Resident Welfare Association (RWA), told LCW. The plant authorities received a notice from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on April 16, 2019. It stated that the environmental clearance was given to the Okhla WTE in 2007 to use refusederived fuel (RDF) to the tune of 600720 tonnes per day and generate close to 16 megawatts of electricity, but upon inspection by an MoEFCCappointed subcommittee 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 subcommittee also found that the plant had constructed a third stack/chimney and was producing way more power than allowed. The Central Pollution Control Board, meanwhile, has sought monthly monitoring of pollutants released from the plant. In February 2020, the MoEFCC gave its approval for the expansion of the 16megawatt plant to 23 megawatt, going back on its own report where it had flagged violations by the plant, which, amongst others, include unauthorised increase in the capacity to 20 megawatt. LCW spoke to Umesh Bahri, a former office bearer of the Sukhdev Vihar RWA, who said that "far from getting any relief, in fact, the problem of environmental degradation in the area arising out of the plant operation has only worsened in the intervening years of litigation before various forums".
Opposition against environmental degradation
Demand for relocation of the project
Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?
Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict
National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
Section 15 [The Tribunal shall have the power to provide relief and compensation to victims of pollution and other environmental damage]; Section 17 [Where there has been some damage to the environment due to the adverse impact of an activity or operation, the person responsible for the activity shall pay compensation for the damage caused]
Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000
Rule ii [The rules shall apply to every municipal authority responsible for processing and disposal of municipal solid wastes]; Rule iv [The operator of a facility shall make an application for grant of authorisation from the State Board for setting up a waste processing and disposal facility]; Rule viii [The State Board shall submit annual reports regarding the implementation of these rules to the Central Pollution Control Board]; Rule ix [The municipal authority shall report any accidents that occurs in a waste management facility to the Urban Development Department]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Clause 2(ii) [Prior environmental clearance has to be obtained from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for expansion of projects and addition of capacity beyond specified limits]
Delhi Development Act, 1957
Section 11A(2) [The Union government is empowered to make modifications to the master plan, including those related to change in land use]; Section 11A(3) [Any modifications to the master plan (including change in land use) must be notified by the Union government, and the objections and suggestions received shall be considered]
Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute
What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Violation of environmental laws, Change in land use notification not issued as per the requirements of the Delhi Development Authority Act, 1957.
Status of Case In Court
Whether any adjudicatory body was approached
Name of the adjudicatory body
National Green Tribunal
Name(s) of the Court(s)
Supreme Court of India, High Court of Delhi
C.A. No. 013120 - / 2017 (SC), Original Application No. 22 (THC) of 2013 (NGT), W.P. (C) 9901/2009
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Whether criminal law was used against protestors
Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?
Reported Details of the Violation:
Date of Violation
Location of Violation
Nature of Protest
Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials
Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:
Government of NCT of Delhi; Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change; Central Pollution Control Board; Delhi Pollution Control Committee, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, New Delhi Municipal Council
PSUs Involved in the Conflict:
Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited, Delhi Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Company Private Limited
Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
National Alliance of People's Movements, Toxic Watch Alliance, Volunteers of Change