The 10-year contract of the city’s oldest biomedical waste treatment plant in Okhla, which caters to around 1,600 hospitals producing six-seven tonnes of waste daily, expires on Tuesday, forcing the government to call an emergency meeting on Monday to draw up alternative measures to treat the waste.
The government had two years to set up alternative facilities to treat the biomedical waste after the Delhi High Court first ordered the closure of the plant over possible health hazards and pollution concerns. But the government did little in this period, forcing it to scramble now.
In a hurried meeting on Monday, members of the biomedical waste management committee, under the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), decided that after an “inspection” of the plant being run by Syngery Waste Management Services on Tuesday, “in the event that it has to be closed” the waste it manages would be distributed between two other biomedical waste plants in the city.
This would, however, effectively violate Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines on biomedical waste that state that every biomedical waste plant should only cater to 10,000 beds.
In 2008, residents of Sukhdev Vihar near Okhla approached the High Court for closing or shifting the Synergy plant since the Master Plan of Delhi prohibited hazardous industries in proximity to residential areas. The residents said in their plea that the plant, situated less than 30 metres from their colony, was affecting the health of its 10 lakh residents adversely.
The High Court ordered its closure in January 2013. Since then, sources said despite the residents of Sukhdev Vihar repeatedly approaching the authorities, no alternative arrangements for the waste managed by the plant were made or fresh tenders issued. Residents told The Indian Express on Monday that if the Synergy plant was not closed on Tuesday, they would hold demonstrations.
The plant was set up on government land in Okhla in 2005 with a 10-year contract with the Directorate of Health Services(DHS). It was initially catering to the whole of the city, lifting, transporting and treating waste from government hospitals free of cost. The two other waste management plants came up later. Office-bearers from Synergy waste management services said they were still to be informed about the government decision on Monday evening.