Koilwar residents approach Bihar human rights agency to stall waste incineration plant near their homes

State pollution control board to hold public hearing for the Ramky project on October 16

By Alok Gupta
Published: Monday 13 October 2014

This waste to energy plant was built in Delhi despite stiff resistance from residents (DTE file photo)

Residents of Koilwar area in Bhojpur district are up in arms against a hazardous waste incineration plant proposed in the area next to a village along the Sone river. While the Bihar State Pollution Control Board organizing a public hearing for the proposed project on October 16, the residents have approached the Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) to stall the proposed hazardous waste burning plant at Mahul Mauza on Koilwar-Babura Road. It will have the capacity to incinerate 50,000 tonnes waste in a month.

In the petition residents have alleged that proposed plant would continuously emit noxious pollutants like dioxins that has adverse impact on human health and the environment. BHRC has admitted the plea for consideration.

Waste generated from 99 industrial units in various parts of Bihar would be transported to the proposed unit for burning, according to the proposal for the “integrated common hazardous waste treatment” plant. It is to be constructed by Hyderabad-based Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited.

Residents of Koilwar also alleged that officials of Ramky Enviro Limited blatantly lied about the use of the site.

Ganga Sagar Singh, a resident of Koilwar in a separate petition to Bhojpur district administration, claimed that company officials informed the villagers that iron rods would be manufactured in the plant. “Recently, we came to know that company will establish waste burning unit instead of manufacturing iron rods,” Singh said.

Residents have formed an association, Paryavarn Bachao Jeevan Bachao Sangharsh Morcha (PBJBSM), to oppose the construction of the plant. The association in its petition has demanded that the venue of proposed unit to be shifted from their locality and action be taken against the company for providing misleading information on products that would be manufactured in the plant.

Gopal Krishna of ToxicsWatch Alliance says burning of hazardous wastes would have long-term health impacts on people and can lead to lung and stomach cancers. He further added that such a polluting unit should not be established near human settlement. ToxicsWatch is helping the residents fight their case.

Government of India has banned establishment of such plants and instructed state government and pollution control boards to ensure that such waste burning units should be established away from human settlements, the activist said.

A review of epidemiological studies on adverse health effects associated with incineration, says that that medical waste incinerators are a leading source of dioxins and mercury in the environment and there is link between incinerator emissions and adverse health impacts on humans.

The Delhi High Court, in a judgment delivered in 2013  based on the findings of the study had instructed the government to establish such units away from the human settlements.

The Bihar State Pollution Control Board’s decision on whether it should issue a no objection certificate to Ramky Enviro Limited will depend on the outcome of the public hearing scheduled later this week.

Judgement of the National Green Tribunal regarding improper and unscientific operations at the Bhandewadi Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) dumping yard, 22/04/2014

Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding toxic waste spillage from the Vapi hazardous waste landfill, 20/12/2013

Judgement of the National Green Tribunal on bio-medical waste disposal plants, 28/11/2013

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