Reducing landfills’ height uphill task for MCDs, many waste-to-energy plants shut

several waste-to-energy plants shut for last one and half years

(IANS): Solid Waste Management (SWM) is a crucial component of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, however, so far it has been an uphill task for Delhi’s civic authorities.

To serve the purpose of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, Delhi’s civic bodies through private agencies had set up several waste-to-energy plants at different locations aiming to compost maximum municipal solid waste and to reduce the height of landfill sites. However, many of them are inactive for the last one and a half years.

To check the ground reality, IANS visited six locations where these waste-to-energy plants are set up and found that most of them were closed. When asked, it emerged that the plants have been shut for the last one and a half years due to non clearance of dues by the municipal authorities.

Nishant Tiwari, an employee of a private firm that has setup as many as 10 waste-to-energy plants at different places in the city, said, “Out of 10, only two plants are operational at present and these two have been restarted two weeks back otherwise all plants were shut since the last one and a half years. We need to have at least one dozen employees to operate a single plant and we need money to pay their monthly wages.”

Tiwari said his firm has set up waste-to-energy plants at Mukherjee Nagar, Roshanara Park, Naraina and Mangolpuri (under the jurisdiction of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation), Basant Kunj, Punjabi Bagh, Sarita Vihar, Dwarka Sector 14 (under the jurisdiction of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation) while three plants are at Seelampur and Geeta Colony.

“We made several requests to MCDs to release our dues of Rs 12 crore but we did not get our money. Now, we have clearly said that plants will not be made operational until our back dues are cleared by the MCDs,” Tiwari added.

These waste-to-energy plants were set up aiming to compost maximum daily generated municipal waste and to generate electricity through the process. The other purpose of these plants was to reduce the height of Delhi’s three mountain-size landfills — Okhla, Bhalswa and Ghazipur.

IANS approached several senior officials in the MCDs who are associated with the SWM project to get their reaction on this matter but they refused to make any comment. However, junior officials who are in-charge of waste-to-energy plants in their service area confirmed that the plants have been closed for the last one and a half years.

“North MCD has requested the plant’s owner to restart it, however, he refused to do so because of non-clearance of his dues,” said an official in North MCD, who is in-charge of the plant set up at Roshanara Park.

There have been several occasions when the Delhi High Court or the Supreme Court in the past have slammed the Delhi Government and the civic authorities and have directed they find a permanent solution to these landfills that are polluting the city air.

The civic authorities had high hopes from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) that it will use inert waste for making roads, however, it has not materialised so far. In fact, three years back NHAI had signed an MoU with the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) that it would use waste from Ghazipur landfill to fill the pavements of the Delhi-Meerut expressway, but it did not happen due to a financial disagreement between them.

As per the official data, Delhi currently generates around 12,350 tonnes of solid waste daily and this is expected to rise to 18,915 tonnes by 2041. Of the total waste, 85 per cent is collected by the MCDs, of which around 55 per cent is dumped at landfills.

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Arushi Sana is the Co-Founder of Santerra Living, a bio-pellet factory that makes a renewable form of eco-coal and Co-Founder of NYK Daily, a global news platform. She was awarded the Times Power Women of the Year 2022, Times Digital Entrepreneur of the Year 2023, Silicon India's Top 10 Women Owned Startups of Hyderabad 2023 and IHW Council Climate Health Influencer 2024. Arushi is also a speaker for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at various forms like the World Bank, UN International Solar Alliance and Universities, and was also invited to the UN COP28 UAE Climate Conference. She is a Sustainability Consultant for organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprint and also works with brands on social media to help them carve a presence in that niche. She holds a Degree in Computer Science Engineering from VIT University and a Diploma in Marketing Analytics from IIM Nagpur. She has previously worked in Ernst & Young and Deloitte as a Forensic Data Analyst. Arushi is a writer, political researcher, a social worker, a farmer and a singer with an interest in languages. Travel and nature are the biggest spiritual getaways for her, and she aims to develop a global community of knowledge and journalism par excellence through this News Platform.

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