The second phase of odd-even road rationing scheme in Delhi – meant to lower the city’s lethal pollution levels — is about to end. But meanwhile, the Jindal-run Timarpur-Okhla waste to energy plant has allegedly been belching out pollution equal to 350,000 cars every day .
The plant burns nearly 2,000 tonnes of unsegregated waste from three hospitals to create just 16 MW of electricity.
Locals who have filed lawsuits against it say they have been suffering from ill health since it started operation in 2012. Even the Fortis Escorts and the Holy Family Hospital – which send their wastes to this plant – have complained to the Prime Minister’s office in 2014 about the emissions.
The fumes contain cancer causing substances like Sox, Nox and Cadmium, found studies conducted by non-profit Toxic Watch. In March, the Central Pollution Control Board conducted a study which said the plant’s particulate matter readings and emissions were within permissible limits. But a study initiated by National Green Tribunal last year showed the level of noxious elements apart from those two to be 20 times the permissible limit.
In 2013, the plant had received a showcause notice by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. And as the legal tangles mounted, the operation has continued, say locals.
In a statement, the authorities of the plant said they received DPCC’s permission to operate a month ago and are allowed to continue till December 2016. But they have been asked to lower emission levels.
Ranjit, an environmental writer and the resident of nearby Sukhdev Vihar, said legally, such a plant cannot be located so close to residential areas.
According to the municipal solid wastes rule passed in 2000, such plants must be located near or on a landfill site. But this one not only stands 6.5 km away from the Okhla landfill site, it also violates the Wildlife Act by being built on a green belt next to the Okhla bird sanctuary, he said.