The environment secretary of the Delhi government, who is also the head of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), and the member-secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), on Thursday visited the Okhla waste-to-energy plant to conduct an inspection to look into allegations raised before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) about emissions from the plant.
On Wednesday, the NGT principal bench, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, had directed the member secretaries of the DPCC and CPCB to visit the waste-to-energy plant and “observe the functioning of the segregation of waste in the plant and general workings of the plant”. The directions were issued in response to a petition filed by the Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association (RWA), which had raised concerns about the way the plant functioned and demanded its closure on the grounds that it was causing pollution.
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Advocate Gaurav Bansal, appearing for the RWA, informed the bench that the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) had in its report stated that waste to energy plants that used mass burning technology should be stopped immediately.
The bench, in its order, observed that it was a “somewhat commonly conceded position” that “segregation at the plant is not working effectively which ultimately leads to discharge of pollutant higher than the prescribed limit.”
The NGT, however, declined to make any observations regarding the emissions, as it was informed by the CPCB that it was in the process of analysing the air samples collected from the plant. The bench has directed that the collective analysis report should be placed before the Tribunal.
The NGT also directed the project proponent of the plant to “immediately take all effective steps and… installation of such improved technology so that segregation of municipal solid waste is complete in all respect and does not result in mix waste being put into the furnaces.” The Tribunal has directed the project owners to file an affidavit within one week with details of “all steps taken by the project proponent for improving and ensuring the scientific, complete and effective segregation of the municipal solid wastes before it is put on the conveyer belt”.
The report of the visit by the member-secretaries will also be submitted before the NGT within two weeks, and the bench has directed the member-secretaries to analyse and “comment upon” the “improvements proposed by the project proponent”.