The Okhla waste-to-energy plant here was on Thursday allowed to function by the National Green Tribunal, which said it need not be shut down or shifted as it is non-polluting now but directed it to pay an environmental compensation of Rs 25 lakh for its deficient operation earlier.
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar while passing a slew of directions in the “interest of public health and environment”, said environmental compensation (EC) be paid to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in equal shares for utilising for prevention and control of air pollution in the area.
The Bench, in its 142-page judgement, said the Okhla plant should not be directed to either shut down or shifted to another site as there is definite evidence before it to arrive at a finding that the project proponent is compliant and non-polluting.
The Bench said the project proponent, M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd, is liable to pay EC of Rs 25 lakh in terms of provisions of the NGT Act for the pollution resulting from deficient functioning/operation of ‘waste-to-energy plant’ and its stack emissions being in excess of prescribed parameters upto the period of December 18, 2014.
“The waste-to-energy plant would be permitted to operate till further orders of the tribunal and/or CPCB/DPCC, as the case may be. The plant shall operate to its optimum capacity and would not cause any environmental pollution,” it said.
The tribunal’s verdict came on a petition filed by residents of Sukhdev Vihar alleging that the plant was releasing “toxic” emissions which had affected their health.
The residents had submitted that the plant had obtained an environmental clearance, authorisation and consent to operate (CTO) on the condition that it would use refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and biogas technology to convert waste to energy. But contrary to its promise, it has allegedly been incinerating mixed waste which has lowered the efficiency of the plant and is causing air pollution.
The Bench made it clear that if the plant is found to be deficient in its operation or violates prescribed standards of emissions, it would be “liable to pay environmental compensation of Rs five lakhs per incident, in addition to such other order or directions that may be passed by the regulatory authorities and this tribunal including closure of the plant”.
The Bench, also comprising judicial members U.D. Salvi and Raghuvendra S. Rathore and expert members Bikram Singh Sajwan and Ranjan Chaterjee, dismissed the claim of applicants challenging the environment clearance granted to the project proponent by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on April 21, 2007, saying it was time-barred. - PTI