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Why Is The Government Adamant About An Impractical Waste Energy Plant?

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The government’s plan to set up a waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerator plant at the city’s Bandhwari landfill has brought into debate the effectiveness of such plants in managing solid waste. Setting up an incinerator plant is ‘illogical’ in the Indian scenario, according to several experts.

Residents from various sectors of Gurugram and from surrounding villages  expressed disapproval of the ‘waste to energy plant’ and its expansion from 15mw to 25mw. Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) along with various RWAs, NGOs, social and environmental groups, Citizens for Clean Air, NCR waste matters, Warrior Moms, members of Aravali Bachao Citizens group etc. were present and marked their protest for the plant in the public hearing.

A public hearing was called by the civic bodies on the subject of waste to energy plant expansion on 31st August, 2021. Despite heavy rain, more than 200 people from Gurugram, Faridabad and nearby villages around the landfill came to attend the public hearing.

A recent study says carbon particles from biomass burning and vehicles could be discolouring the Taj.

What Is A Waste-To-Energy Plant?

A waste-to-energy plant (WTE) is a waste management facility that combusts waste to produce electricity. This type of power plant is sometimes called a trash-to-energy, municipal waste incineration, energy recovery or resource recovery plant.

What is not accounted for is the large amount of noxious gases, the products of low temperature combustion of unsegregated waste, being spewed out by the plants into the city’s already polluted air. An expert compared this process with creating landfills in the sky.

WTE by incineration is a non-viable, non-feasible technology. It will force the operators and governments to slowly divert more and more waste towards the incinerators because it is a very expensive technology and can be economically feasible only if 50-60% of waste goes into it.

Solid Municipal Waste, if not handled scientifically, has the potential to damage the health of the environment and become a public health hazard. The emphasis of waste management policies should transition from disposal to source separation to recycling and finally to waste prevention.

Nearly half of India’s WTE plants, meant to convert non-biodegradable waste, are defunct. Further, the country’s inability to segregate waste has resulted in even the existing plants working below capacity- an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment.

The authorities are viewing waste only from a ‘trading’ point of view and not its management. Instead of monetizing aspect alone, there should have been mention of due processes for handling of recyclables and a list given of empaneled recyclable agencies to meet with the objectives of SWM rules of resource management.

The dry waste should be going to designated dry waste collection centers for optimum resource recovery for recycling purposes with authorized agencies. The ‘Vendor Agreement’ is a serious reflection of the civic mess and failed SWM practices in the city of Gurugram. The Agreement also resonates with the unaccountable and insensitive nature of waste handling activity being carried out in the city by the sole waste concessionaire of MCG.

Suggestions Ignored

Ruchika Sethi from Citizens for Clean Air mentioned about the worsening air quality of Gurugram.

In 2017, in order to address the prolonged exposure of Gurgaon citizens to poor air quality (5-9 times the safe level of PM 2.5), we submitted a petition signed by 25,000 concerned citizens. We also gave a road map to address the local sources of year-round pollution such as the rampant practice of waste dumping, levelling in open grounds and burning of waste (including plastic, municipal, e waste) in open areas. But the suggestions were ignored.”

She said that once this incineration begins, we won’t be able to undo the damage done to the air quality.

Shashi Bhushan (DASAM) spoke about Integrating waste pickers, scrap dealers, aggregators, recyclers at ward level and augment their work and provide infrastructure support either by way of some basic machines which will help stack and aggregate the dry waste as well as allocate land to work as secondary sorting sheds or dry waste collection centers.

He raised questions about the implementation of SWM Rules which are not being implemented by the municipal corporations. He demanded that Material Recovery Facility centers (MRF) to be set up at ward levels thereby following the SWM Rules. He alleged that this plant will destroy the only source of livelihood for thousands of waste pickers.

Environmentalist Saurabh mentioned about the RDF plant which was built in collaboration with Angel biotech a few years back but later burned. The plant was set up using the taxpayers money and later burned using the same.

He questioned the panel and asked them about the things found in household waste which will be burned to produce energy. He added that he has been working since the last 13 years to develop greens and clean our environment but we’ve received no support from the government.

Environmentalist Vaishali Rana asked the authorities that if the waste is from different parts of Gurugram and Haryana, then why is the waste not sorted at their originating point only? Why do the people of Bandhwari village have to face the huge landfill and now it’s burning?

She alleged that the environmental clearance which was taken by the company is based on false information. The report submitted by the company for clearance of 2019 doesn’t mention that the area which is sought for the plant comes under Aravali which falls under “gair mumkin pahar” (uncultivable hill) and is notified under Section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA).

For the same, they need to seek permission from the Central Government and not the Haryana Forest Department.

Knowledge support was provided by Shibu K. Nair (GAIA),  Dr. Shyamala Mani and many environmentalists who backed the opposition to the plant.

For more information: dashaktimanch@gmail.com, +919968413109, +918178959197

#WasteManagement #Waste #Resource #Pollution #India #Energy

This piece was first published on Kractivist

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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