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Budget 2013: Waste-to-energy gets fund boost
NEW DELHI: With the government
throwing its weight behind waste-to-energy (WTE) plants in this year's Budget,
a debate has started on the need for, and suitability of, such projects. Waste
management across most parts of the country is in a mess and in cities like
Delhi, where a WTE plant has been operating for more than a year, municipal
agencies say it is the best way to manage waste. However, environmentalists say
incineration is not a suitable technology for India.
For the first time, the
government has made a budgetary provision to encourage setting up of WTE
plants. In his Budget speech, finance minister P Chidambaram said the
government will support municipalities that implement waste-to-energy projects,
through different instruments like viability gap funding, repayable grant and
the three municipal corporations have welcomed the move, environmentalists say
the technology is not sustainable in India. Sunita Narain, director of The
Centre for Science and Environment, said Indian waste is not suitable for
incineration as it is not properly segregated.
policy shows a complete lack of understanding of the garbage that is drowning
our cities. WTE plants are a good idea, but they have not worked in the
country. They require high calorific value waste and careful monitoring to
ensure that there is no emission of dioxins and other toxins because of burning
plastics. What we need instead is waste management strategies which encourage
segregation, recycling and reuse," she said.
Krishna, who has been protesting against the existing WTE plant in Delhi, says
that for every five truckloads of waste burnt, one remains as toxic ash which
still must be carefully stored or dumped in landfills. "Even the most
technologically advanced waste incinerators produce hundreds of distinct
hazardous byproducts, including dioxins, heavy metals, halogenated organic
compounds and nano particles," he said.
plants exist in Kanpur and Mumbai, besides Delhi. Experts say Kanpur has
managed to deal extremely well with waste but India, with its massive
population, needs to factor in the human cost of such technology. For each such
plant, hundreds of rag pickers end up losing their jobs.
the flip side, municipal bodies say it is the most effective way to manage
waste. Delhi has a functional 16MW plant at Okhla and one plant each will
become operational in Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana by the year-end. Municipal
agencies say the Centre's provision of viability gap funding-the government
pays for the gap in recovering of capital cost-will encourage private players.
metros, WTE plants are the only option to dispose of waste and yet earn from
it. Municipalities don't have funds to pay upfront to bridge the gap between
the capital cost incurred by the concessionaire and the recovery,'' said S S
Yadav, commissioner, East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
three municipal corporations are planning to set up three more WTE plants. The
South Corporation has already placed a request for land with Delhi Development
Authority to set up two WTEs. The corporations are now focusing on streamlining
waste collection and segregation, a lesson learnt from the Okhla plant project.
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