Check if Okhla plant emits toxic gases: Green Tribunal to pollution control boards

To ensure safety of Okhla residents living near a waste-to-energy plant that incinerates waste for fuel,the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday ordered government officials to check whether the plant’s emissions contain heavy metals.

Written by Kamala Kelkar | New Delhi | Published:May 28, 2013 1:01 am

To ensure safety of Okhla residents living near a waste-to-energy plant that incinerates waste for fuel,the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday ordered government officials to check whether the plant’s emissions contain heavy metals.

According to the NGT order by Justice Swatanter Kumar,the Okhla waste-to-energy plant should also be properly segregating all municipal waste before it hits the incinerator because some matter,such as plastic and steel,release noxious gas into the air when heated.

Officials from the Central Pollution Control Board,the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Ministry of Environment and Forests were told to form a committee and meet within two weeks to form a plan for execution.

The applicant,Sukhdev Vihar Resident Welfare Association,has been arguing in court since 2009 that the Delhi government is ignoring potential environmental impacts of the plant’s emissions. The counsel for the applicant made an unsubstantiated claim that the plant was emitting mercury,but CPCB had no documents to refute it.

Kumar said based on the lack of evidence in either direction,one of the committee’s orders is to ensure no industrial waste enters the incinerator and pollutes the air.

“We still cannot rule out the possibility of presence of such heavy metals,” Kumar said. “These can be very precarious to human health. While analysing the samples,the lab shall report if any metals,particularly mercury,are found in the emissions… its extent and source should be identified.”

Kumar also ordered that the committee should explore whether the plant can control the temperature when plastic waste is sent to the incinerator,so that it does not emit any noxious gases.

The RWA on Friday had filed an affidavit requesting that the UP government become party in the case because the plant,according to the RWA,lies within an area to be declared an eco-sensitive zone by the UP government.

The request was not brought to the bench’s attention in time for Tuesday’s hearing. Kumar set the next hearing date for July 22.

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