NEW DELHI: Going back on its previous directions, the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has now allowed the Okhla waste-to-energy plant to increase its power generation from 16 MW to 23 MW by amending the environmental clearance the plant had received in 2007.

The latest documents, which have been accessed by TOI, show the environment ministry has allowed the plant to increase its generation by 7 MW “without increasing the municipal solid waste (MSW) intake and without installing any additional equipment.” “..The ministry hereby amends the environmental clearance dated 21.3.2007 and 9.5.2007 for increase in power generation from 16 MW to 23 MW without increasing MSW intake and without installing any additional equipment..” the order states.

Additional conditions have also been imposed on the plant. No further expansion will be permitted beyond the 23 MW power generations capacity at the site, considering its proximity to the Sukhdev Vihar residential colony, which is less than 100 metres away.

Other conditions include online emissions monitoring for all parameters and that the plant should be run in automatic mode to achieve stable operating conditions. “Online emission monitoring equipment for all parameters provided in the guidelines for continuous emission monitoring systems shall be installed and connected to CPCB and DPCC servers,” the order stated.

However, locals say that meeting the increased power demand without increasing the waste intake is not possible, stating the ministry has completely disregarded the report by the expert appraisal committee (EAC). “EAC had stated that the calorific value of the waste is below 1,000 kcal per kg, which is far below requirement. How can the plant now produce more electricity with less waste?” said Vinayak Malik, general secretary, RWA, Sukhdev Vihar. “In its report, EAC also called for expansion only at the operator’s second site at Tehkhand and not at present site because of its close proximity to residential areas. This direction has also been violated.”

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In September 2019, the ministry had observed a number of violations at the plant, stating it was not only handling more unsegregated waste per day than approved, but it is also managing the entire process at one location instead of the two allotted to it. The order, dated September 4, had also stated that the plant had increased its capacity to 20 MW against the 16 MW approved, meaning more refuse derived fuel is being processed and at higher emission levels. The order had directed the CPCB to carry out an ecological damage assessment study and to monitor dioxins and furans from the fuel gas once a month.

The environment ministry had also stated that CPCB would decide a compensation amount to be deposited by the project proponent for “restoration of natural resources and pollution control measures”.



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