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Last Updated : Aug 28, 2019 02:22 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

BMC should learn about waste management from NTPC

BMC expects the bidder to spend Rs.6 crore and is willing to spend Rs 4 crore as viability gap funding. The bidder can sell proceeds from the waste management plant and retain revenues to meet operating expenses. It would have to develop a door to door waste collection system for collecting the waste

Earlier this month, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM, also known as BMC or Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) received only one bidder for managing dry waste in Mumbai, reports suggest. The plan involves MCGM giving to the winning party around 5,000 square meters of land in South Mumbai (near Badhwar Park).

The news reports stated that MCGM expected the bidder to spend Rs 6 crore. The municipal corporation itself would be willing to spend Rs 4 crore as viability gap funding. The bidder could sell proceeds from the waste management plant and retain the revenues meet operating expenses. The bidder would have to develop a door-to-door waste collection system for collecting the waste.

And this is where one is left with more questions than answers.

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First, when the tender was floated in 2018 such dry waste processing plants were to be located at various places like Suraksha Garden, Colaba, Deonar, Malvani, etc.

That raises the first question -- why were other tenders not opened?  Why is it that the most lucrative real estate territory has been opened first? Pilot plants are built for smaller places first.

Second, why is it that waste processing plants are being located within the city?  Take global examples.  One of the largest waste management plants is at Linkoping in Sweden – at a remote location, some 200 km away from Stockholm. Even in a very small country like Tel Aviv, the dry waste plant is over 20 km away from the city.

Third, and even more important, MCGM and Maharashtra should be looking at NTPC for lessons in waste management. NTPC -- a public sector power generator -- set up a small plastics reprocessing plant capable of producing just 250 kW of energy each day. The plant incinerates all the plastic waste from Varanasi, and the hot gases are used for generating electricity. The plant has been running for over a year now.

Having gained some expertise in this area, NTPC recently signed an agreement with the Surat Municipality for treating around 15 lakh tonne solid waste – both dry and wet -- daily, which in turn will generate around 15 MW of power. The municipality will buy back this power on a cost-plus basis.

That in turn will generate a 15.5 percent return on investment for the power public sector giant. As a senior official of the NTPC puts it, “100 tonne of waste can easily generate about 1 Watt of power”.  The plant should be ready and functioning in three years-time.

At the same time, NTPC plans to treat 2,000 tonne of waste daily for the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC). This plant too should be ready in 30 months. Once again, power from this plant will have to be purchased by EDMC on a cost-plus basis. The approximate cost at which power will be purchased is around Rs 7 per kWh.

As the NTPC official explains, “We have the know-how, understand the power business and sufficient land. The state sends waste to our gates, and we take it up from there. This way, the states do not have to worry about waste management, we have a power purchase agreement in place, and manage waste in such a manner that it is financially and environmentally sustainable. Someone has to bear the cost to make it sustainable.  The state agrees to buy back power at our rates, and pool it with the lower cost power they already sell.”

At all these plants, emission levels will compare with the best in India, NTPC officials said.

If NTPC can do this, why can’t Maharashtra ask its own power generating companies to follow suit as well?  Why is it that parcels of land are given away to private players within the city when this work should be done outside?

And when will the state adopt a policy of zero landfills, the way Sweden has done. In fact, like NTPC, Sweden has shown how to make waste management a great business opportunity.

It appears that the state has not done its homework properly.  If it has, it does not want to adopt the best practices that are available within the country.

Finally, Maharashtra has failed to bring in third-party inspections with globally reputed agencies like SGS, which can ensure rigorous certification standards are currently enforced by government agencies, be it in bridge building, road constructions, food, water, or even the environment. Without this, you will constantly discover more scams of poorly constructed roads and bridges, incomplete dredging of drains, lack of waste management and poor environmental standards.

Maharashtra should be learning more about waste management from NTPC.

The author is consulting editor with Moneycontrol

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First Published on Aug 28, 2019 02:22 pm
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