Residents of Sukhdev Vihar cite foul smell, toxic fumes to oppose expansion of Okhla WTE plant

  • | Tuesday | 16th August, 2022

New Delhi, Aug 16 (PTI) Reiterating their stand against the proposed expansion of the Okhla waste-to-energy plant, residents of Sukhdev Vihar in southeast Delhi on Tuesday said toxic fumes emanating from the plant are leading to several health hazards among the people.Sukhdev Vihar is situated at a close proximity to the waste-to-energy (WTE) plant and the aggrieved residents were speaking during a public hearing for environmental clearance for the expansion of the plant.The residents have urged the authorities to call off the expansion and shift the Okhla plant to the landfill site at Tughlaqabad.“There is foul smell and toxic fumes within our society, especially during the winters and it has been impacting our health every single day,” a resident Dhruv Kapoor said.  He said the residents are not against the WTE plant, but against its location as it has been impacting those living around the plant.Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena had recently proposed the expansion of the Okhla WTE plant to generate 40 MW of power. At present, the plant is generating 23 MW of energy and the Union environment ministry has capped the garbage consumption at the plant at 1,950 metric tonnes and the power generation at 23 megawatts.The ministry had also issued an order against “any further expansion (beyond 23 MW power generation capacity) at the same site considering the proximity of Sukhdev Vihar residential colony”.“The plant is situated within 100 metres of our residential area. The Union environment ministry has already issued an order against expansion beyond 23 MW, and the matter is also pending before the Supreme Court. This is a matter of concern to the residents as these toxic gases are like slow poison to us. There are many who have been facing health hazards due to this,” Rajiv Behl, another resident of Sukhdev Vihar who was a part of the public hearing, said.During the public hearing, the residents of Sukhdev Vihar also mentioned that the Residents" Welfare Association (RWA) of Sukhdev Vihar SFS (Pocket A) has written to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) pointing out the factors because of which they have been opposing the plan for expansion of the WTE plant.“The DPCC had found the plant to be emitting excess dioxins, furans and Hydrochloric acid (HCL), and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh for the default. This is not the first instance where the plant has been fined for causing pollution that is clearly injurious to the health of lakhs of people living nearby,” the RWA said in the letter.“Proceeding with the expansion of the plant despite the case being pending in the apex court may also amount to contempt,” the letter said.Another resident Devvrat said air quality deteriorates in the region from the month of October every year.“There is foul smell and a lot of smoke enters the residential areas on a daily basis. As soon as the winter arrives and the city"s pollution levels rise, the smoke and smell stay within our society. The noise, too, sometimes accelerates so much that we are forced to file complaints. This plant is operating with the "blessings" of DPCC and managers of the plant,” he claimed.Residents of Shaheen Bagh questioned, “Why is the concern only for posh colonies? Can a waste-to-energy plant be set up in a posh residential area?” Environmentalist Bhavreen Kandhari said the expansion of the WTE means "more smoke, more poison and more lives affected".  Kandhari also wrote to DPCC, urging the anti-pollution body to release the Online Continuous Emission Monitoring System (OCEMS) data of the last six months of the plant.  “What stops them (DPCC) from releasing the OCEMS data daily? There should be transparency in such data, and independent experts should be allowed to track it,” the green activist said.  During the public hearing, the project proponent also presented presentations on the need for expansion of the plant.  “The proposed expansion of the project is one of the most efficient and environment friendly solutions for tackling the municipal solid waste problem of Delhi,” the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report read.It said the project has been recommended by the Supreme Court, Delhi L-G and Central Empowered Committee.PTI ABU SRY

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