Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla residents demand closure of hazardous Waste to Energy plant

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By Naz Asghar

Jan 16, 2019

New Delhi: Hundreds of people from several South Delhi localities today staged strong protests against proposed expansion of the polluting Waste to Energy plant in their vicinity, forcing the district administration to call off what they described as ”sham” public hearing, saying it was being held violating all rules and norms.

The protesters, who included men and women of different age groups, many of them in their 80s, came from all sections of the society and different walks of life to demand closure of the Okhla waste to energy plant set up by the Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL) of Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), saying its toxic emissions were playing havoc with their health.

The hazardous incinerator is in close vicinity of Sukhdev Vihar, Sarita Vihar, Haji Colony, Ghaffar Manzil, Zakir Nagar, Okhla Vihar,  Batla House,  Jasola,  Shaheen Bagh and Abul Fazal. The plant is also not very far away from the Okhla Bird Sactuary which is home to migratory birds of different species.

The aggrieved residents said that the plant had been set up in densely populated localities which is against the prescribed norms. Secondly, they said the company was using an unapproved and untested Chinese technology, against the technology it promised in the agreement signed with the Delhi Government.

The plant capacity is present is 16 MW and is sought to be further raised to 40 MW, which if happens would further aggravate the environmental situation in the area, president of the Sukhdev Vihar Pocket A Resident Welfare Association(RWA) S Khan and Jasola Heights RWA president Shakeel Ahmad said.

Dr Madhu Kumar, a resident of Sukhdev Vihar, said the toxic emissions and fly ash released by the plant were making the air in the affected localities deadly which were not only affecting the present generation but were also going to affect the generations to come.

Abdul Rasheed Agwan of Volunteers of Change (VoC) said people of the  area have to carry on a sustained struggle against  the  criminal apathy  of the establishment towards public health.

Another Sukhdev Vihar resident Ranjit Devraj said that they had been waging the battle against the setting up of the plant since its very inception in 2009 as their locality and Haji colony were the most affected areas, being just within 50 meters of the plant premises. If the plant boiler explodes, they are directly under the strike zone. Also falling under the explosion impact zone are Jamia Millia Islamia University, and students of the Central Road Research Institute(CRRI).

The residents staged today’s protest at the South Delhi district magistrate’s office in Lajpat Nagar where the ‘public hearing’ was to be held. They said that as per the rule, such hearing should be held at the plant site or in its close vicinity to ensure widest possible participation by the affected population.
Environment activist and convener of  National Alliance of People’s Movement Vimal Bhai also joined in the demonstration and called upon the residents to carry on their struggle till they achieve their goal.

”This is a question of life and death for our children,” said Tahreema Nadeem, Tarannum Ahmad and Nasreen Zaidi, who had come from Ghaffar Manzil.”

”We don’t want to gift poison to our children,” said Savita who had come from Sukhdev Vihar.
(India News Stream)