A public hearing for the city’s first hazardous waste treatment facility, proposed at North Delhi’s Bawana, was held last week and received over 70 objections and suggestions.
The hearing was held three months after it was initially planned on April 9, as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, according to a document prepared by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) on the proceedings of the hearing.
The treatment, storage and disposal facility for hazardous waste is planned on a 14-acre plot adjacent to a waste-to-energy plant and the Pragati power station in Bawana. It would receive waste including chemical refuse from industries and domestic hazardous waste such as CFL bulbs, expired medicines and used batteries, which currently either goes to landfills or are stored in the premises of industrial units or at common effluent treatment plants (CETPs).
“A huge quantum of hazardous waste is lying in the premises of industries and CETPs of Delhi leading to lack of space and resultant increase in pollution,” states the environment impact assessment (EIA) report prepared by project builder Tamil Nadu Waste Management Ltd (TNWML) in January 2020.
Among the objections raised by local residents were concerns on the effect that the waste unit will have on the land, as it is planned close to an agricultural area.
Sangeeta Devi (33), a resident of Metro Vihar, which is a few kilometres away from the project site, said, “There is Dhan currently planted in the area and there were farmers present at the hearing who enquired if their crop would be affected. They were told it would not be. We were worried about smoke that would come out of this facility, but were told there would not be such a problem.”
In the document of the proceedings, a representative of the consultant firm is quoted as saying that the plant would use air pollution control devices. It further quotes him as saying that the plant would provide employment to locals depending on their skills.
Multiple objections also claimed that the project proponent was going beyond the scope of work laid out in the tender and was trying to get permission to process other waste streams beyond hazardous waste, which the firm denied, as per the proceedings document.
The Delhi government’s Cabinet had approved the facility in June 2018, following directions from the National Green Tribunal in 2015 for setting up such a facility in the city. Through a tendering process, DSIIDC had awarded the project to TNWML.