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Waste pickers in New Delhi protest against subsidies for waste-to-energy incinerators

According to reports, representatives of waste pickers’ organisations, citizens groups, environmental organisations and residents’ welfare associations held a protest dharna in front of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Lodhi Estate here on Monday.

The protestors were demanding the immediate end of climate subsidies to waste-to-energy incinerators under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes’ Clean Development Mechanism and the cancellation of the registrations made by two upcoming such projects at Okhla and Gazhipur.

“Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the UN body which oversees the global carbon market, is supporting various waste-to-energy schemes. These plants burn waste, creating even more greenhouse gas emissions and toxic pollution. Also recyclable waste is burnt here which means they compete directly with the waste pickers and reduce their earnings,” noted a release issued by the protestors.

“The CDM’s flagship waste management project in India, the Timarpur-Okhla venture is turning into an all-around disaster, revealing flaws in both the CDM as well as the technology-focused approach to waste management. It has been facing stiff opposition from citizens and waste picker groups because of the environmental and social fall outs,” said Dharmesh Shah, member of the organising team.

He added that the strongest opponents of waste to energy projects are the waste pickers of Delhi among others.

“It has been proven through earlier unsuccessful experiments in Timarpur (1989) and Vijaywada that Indian waste cannot be incinerated as it contains more than 50 per cent of organic material which is high in moisture and low in calorific value. Hence, a high proportion of plastics, paper and cardboard must be included for the incinerators to function; but these are precisely the materials which the informal sector recycles,” said Mr. Shah.

The protestors also said that apart from livelihood threats, the incinerators also are serious environmental hazard.

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