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Residents and wastepickers protest against waste-to-energy incinerator in Delhi

As a follow-up on the EJOLT video ‘Waste wars’ (visible on our front page and here), we publish a press statement from the Ghazipur Anti-Incinerator Committee, issued the 24th of March 2012, Delhi, India.

On the 24th of March 2012, more than 300 people gathered for a citizen’s hearing on the proposed Waste-to-Energy (W-t-E) incinerator at Ghazipur organized by the residents and the waste pickers. The participants were demanding an immediate stop to the ongoing work on the 1300 tons per day waste-to-energy incinerator in the locality. Ghazipur is a thickly populated area of 3.6 million inhabitants. Sant Ram, President of the Ghazipur Residents Welfare Association said, “our DDA colony, school and a dairy farm are 60 feet away from the plant and several health care facilities are within a radius of one kilometer away. Locating an incinerator in Ghazipur in order to burn Delhi’s waste is an environmental crime.”

Waste incineration systems produce pollutants, which are detrimental to health and the environment. It is expensive and does not eliminate or adequately control the toxic emissions from today’s chemically complex municipal discards. Expressing his concern, Shibu Nair, Thanal Environmental Group, Kerala said that, “nearly 200 toxic chemicals and heavy metals that are known to be associated with incinerator emissions. Even the most modern incinerators release toxic metals, dioxins, and acid gases. Far from eliminating the need for a landfill, waste incinerator systems produce toxic ash and other residues”.

Apart from this, Waste-to-Energy incinerators will severely impact the informal recycling sector, which is currently known to divert significant quantities of recyclable materials from municipal waste. In Delhi, more than 100.000 wastepickers earn a livelihood from waste. Such projects directly compete with them as they aim to incinerate the same waste that is being recycled. “Incinerators cost cities and municipalities more and provides fewer jobs than comprehensive recycling and composting. They prohibit the development of local recycling-based businesses. We demand an end of such destructive waste management policies adopted by the Delhi government. Instead we ask for a just transition by inclusion of wastepickers in formal waste management like door-to-door collection which will ensure better segregation at source and hence end the city dependence on large centralized facilities.” said Shashi Bhushan Pandit of All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh, a wastepickers union.

There are several socially and environmentally suitable strategies that are mandated under the Municipal Solid Waste Rule (2000) but they receive little attention and support from the government. “Organic constitute 50 to 60% of urban solid waste. If ‘cold’ technologies like composting and biogas are adopted to deal with organics, then they will solve half of Delhi’s waste crisis. The Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Integrated Plant Nutrient Management did not encourage WTE policy and has recommended setting up of 1000 compost plants all over the country”, said Dunu Roy of Hazards Centre. Central government and State Government must take cognizance of the threats to waste pickers’ livelihood, citizens health and environment. The proposed Waste-to-Energy plants in Okhla, Gazipur and Narela Bawana must be stopped with immediate effect and high cost routes for waste management must be avoided and instead only appropriate methods such as small-scale bio-methanation, composting and proper recycling be propagated.

The Ghazipur Anti-Incinerator Committee passed a resolution with the following demands:

1. Stop all on-going work on the Ghazipur incinerator immediately;

2. Dismiss all waste-to-energy incinerator project proposals;

3. Adopt participatory and decentralized waste management policies that do not disproportionally force any single community to live with the city’s waste;

4. Recognize and support the informal waste recycling sector by adopting policies that include the waste pickers.

For More information contact

Sashi Bhushan Pandit – 9968413109

Dharmesh Shah – 09962516546

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