Okhla waste-to-energy plant operator told to control emissions or face closure

National Green Tribunal gives three weeks to Jindal company

By Soma Basu
Published: Wednesday 11 September 2013

Control emissions and segregate waste or else face closure, the National Green Tribunal warned Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd (JUIL) which operates a waste-to-energy plant in Okhla area of South Delhi. The tribunal gave the company three weeks time to comply with its directions.

The tribunal, however, declined the plea of the petitioner—Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association—to shut the plant outright.

The tribunal order said the JUIL shall, within a period of three weeks, ensure that all the parameters of emissions are brought within the prescribed limits and that steps are taken to ensure automatic and proper segregation of waste before it is disposed of, as prescribed by the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules of 2000.

“We make it clear that in the event of Project Proponent (JUIL) now defaulting in compliance of the directions of the Tribunal, the Tribunal would be compelled to direct the closure of this industry on an appropriate application, moved by the applicant,” the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The order said that the tribunal's inspection team shall visit the unit after the expiry of three weeks and submit report before the next date of hearing. The executive director of JUIL, Rakesh Agarwal, has been made personally responsible for implementing the order. “In the event of default, he (Agarwal) shall be liable to be proceeded against under the provisions of the National Green Tribunal Act,” the order said.

The tribunal said that though the project technology was approved by the Supreme Court of India,  the site was not. The plant is in operation from the 2012.

The tribunal's inspection team had visited the plant site in July. A joint team of experts of Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) found that emissions from the plant were above normal. The report findings said stack 1 particulate matter emission is 171 mg/Nm3 against prescribed limit of 150 mg/Nm3 while for stack 2, it is 75 mg/Nm3 against prescribed unit of 150 mg/Nm3. Dioxins and furans, in Stack 1 were recorded at 1.43 mg/Nm3 against prescribed limit 0.1 mg/Nm3, while stack 2 it was 1.22 mg/Nm3. The inspection team did not make any adverse comment about emissions but it said waste segregation was being done properly. 

The tribunal said that its order of May 28, this year had specifically directed that project can install municipal solid waste segregation plant and it was apparent that this direction had not been implemented.

Activists and residents expressed disappointment with the court order. Gopal Krishna of non-profit ToxicsWatch Alliance said he is dismayed by the tribunal's rejection of the request to close the plant as of now. He said the impartiality of tribunal “faces a litmus test”.

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