Delhi High Court orders shifting of biomedical waste incinerator from Okhla

Residents hope it will pave the way for shifting of Jindal's waste-to-energy plant

The Delhi High Court has questioned the setting up of waste incineration plants in residential neighbourhoods. It has directed the civic authorities to shift the bio-medical waste incinerator at Okhla in south Delhi to a place outside residential limits following health concerns expressed by residents of the neighbouring locality of Sukhdev Vihar. The residents hope the court verdict will pave the way for shifting another  incinerator in the vicinity, Jindal's waste-to-energy plant, when the court hears their case on January 23.

"The judgement makes it clear that incinerators should not be located in residential areas because their hazardous effect on public health is beyond dispute. Besides, in the case of the waste-to-energy incinerator, there are even more violations. The court will certainly give its verdict in residents' favour (in the Jindal plant case)," says Vimal Monga, president of Sukhdev Vihar residents welfare associaton, the petitioner.

Court cites CPCB guidelines
The judgement observes that the guidelines of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) states that common bio-medical waste treatment facility should be located at a place reasonably far away from residential and sensitive areas so that it has minimal impact on these areas.

The Master Plan for Delhi, 2021, says hazardous waste processing including hospital/medical/industrial waste is amongst the industries, manufacturing of which shall be prohibited within National Capital Territory of Delhi. The order goes on to say it is not in dispute that bio-medical waste is a hazardous waste which can be highly injurious to human life.

“That precisely appears to be the reason for its being included in the list of prohibited/negative list of industries. Admittedly, incinerators are used in the facility meant for disposal of bio-medical waste. This has also been noted in the guidelines issued by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on treatment of bio-medical waste and installation of incinerator is a mandatory requirement for such plants.

Incineration is a controlled combustion from where waste is completely oxidized and harmful microorganisms present in it are destroyed/denatured under high temperature,” the order notes.

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