MCD’s pride, WTE plant doing more harm than good
The Narela-Bawana waste to energy plant, made operational just weeks ahead of the civic elections, was hailed as the highlight of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) projects. Built on 100 acres of land, the Rs 456-crore plant, however, seems to be failing on almost all counts.
Expected to be environment friendly and to meet the energy requirements of the Capital, the plant, instead, seems to be giving rise to a mini-environmental crisis while generating just 22-24 MW of energy per hour. The current energy requirement of the city is 4,000 MW per hour, which will go up to 6,000-6,500 MW in the peak summer months.
The plant is a result of collaboration between the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and waste management company Ramky Group. The tenders for the plant were floated in 2009 and the project was finally approved in 2011. The Ramky Group started ‘saving’ garbage then only. Now, when the plant has finally become operational, over five lakh metric tonnes (MT) of garbage is already piled up on the premises. As fresh garbage keeps coming in regularly, it will take more than three years to clear the existing pile, the officials said.
Meanwhile, the huge mountain of garbage has started emitting harmful gases. In a recent visit to the plant, DNA observed that it generates nearly 500 MT fresh waste every day after the energy production, which is piled up in a landfill created inside the plant. The 500,000 MT of Refused Derived Fuel (RDF), collected in the last six years, has resulted in gas emission and over 2,000 MT of compost, for which there is no market.
“The plant daily processes 2,000 MT of waste, which is collected from the Rohini and Civil Line areas, to create compost and energy. As much as 1,000 MT is used to make compost while the other 1,000MT, plus 200-300MT from the already saved garbage, is used to make energy,” Ramky Group Deputy General Manager Prasad Reddy said.
In addition to the cost of construction, the civic body is paying Rs 1,100-1,200 per MT for garbage pick-up. In the 2017-18 Union Budget, the government approved assistance of Rs 1,500 per MT for compost, which would be paid to the group.
Yet another problem is that the saved garbage is no longer of good quality and is producing a huge amount of ash and other waste.
“If not fed with high calorific value waste, these plants are inefficient. The plant had tonnes of RDF saved, which is of bad quality now, and hence producing a large amount of waste even after processing. This waste will soon start producing methane,” said Swati Sambyal, Manager, Environmental Governance Program, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
And after all this, the plant is producing 24 MW per hour. At the same time, Ghazipur and Okhla plants also process just about 12 MW and 16 MW electricity, respectively.
“These plants generally consume more energy than what they produce. When you consider the economics, you realise that the cost of processing is very high. Waste to enerrgy initiatives are being sold as a silver bullet, the ultimate solution, but this is not the case,” Sambyal said.
- MCD polls
- Narela-Bawana waste to energy plant
- civic elections
- Muncipal Corporation of Delhi
- North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC)
- Ramky Group
- Refused Derived Fuel
- Prasad Reddy
- Swati Sambyal
- Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)