In Bengaluru, WtE plants remain on paper

Waste-to-energy (WtE) plants have been touted to be the panacea for all issues arising out of compost-based waste processing plants, which bring with them the challenges of dealing with odour and protests against them by the locals. However, the ones that have been given the go-ahead by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) have remained wasted opportunities. All plans for the four WtE plants in the pipeline, the oldest from 2009, have remained only on paper.

The BBMP now wants to review the four projects and issue notices to the firms to start work immediately, or vacate the project so that other firms can take over.

“The city needs these WtE plants soon. Even after we assured the firms of our complete support, none of them have begun work on the plants. We will soon issue show-cause notices to them questioning why their MoUs should not be terminated,” said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, BBMP.

Of the four plants, two – Satarem in Goruru and Organic Waste India plant in Kannur of 1,000 Tonnes Per Day (TPD) capacity each – have reached the 24-month deadline as per the MoU the companies signed with the State government.

Allocation of land

Land had been allocated for the Organic Waste India plant first in Mandur in 2009. It was shifted owing to local protests. The management of the firm also changed. The BBMP has now allotted 15 acres of land for the plant in Kannur near Bellahalli. However, local villagers are protesting against it, as now, the BBMP is also dumping waste at a quarry in Bellahalli.

Experts say that while the three other plants would engage in incineration (burning) of garbage, which is considered to be a major source of pollution, this was the only plant that used the gasification process and hence was crucial to the city.

The Satarem plant, against which villagers of Goruru, Magadi had approached the court, has won the case against it. “We have now got all the requisite approvals. The court cases have been sorted out. We are planning to begin construction on the site anytime next month,” said Venkatesh Sivaraman of Satarem.

 Meanwhile, Essel and Nexus Novas plants, which are also in the pipeline, are facing the same issues of disputed land ownership and protests from locals.

These projects have turned squatter-like. The city cannot look at alternative solutions, as we have promised more garbage than we generate every day to these plants. Invariably, we have gone back to landfills, opening up quarries.

V. Ravichandar, member, BBMP Restructuring Committee

Credits The Hindu

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