SOLID WASTE MISMANAGEMENT: City's first energy plant in limbo

SOLID WASTE MISMANAGEMENT: City's first energy plant in limbo

Govt indecisive as contractors await power purchase agreement

The authorities have been evading for long the agreement with a consortium of contractors that is supposed to build the ambitious waste-to-energy project worth Rs. 120 Cr. The project would see the city’s 450 metric ton solid waste converted into low-cost electricity and also facilitate productive disposal of the harmful waste. Directions for the same were issued on 12 December 2017 by National Green Tribunal, asking the state government to complete the project within 18 months.

The project report suggests that a five megawatt power plant was to be installed at Achen, in the city’s Eidgah area that serves as dumping site for the municipal authorities. But the authorities despite tendering out the project to a consortium are yet to finalize the public-private-partnership deal, mandatory to enforce the NGT deadline.

Under the Public-Private-Partnership mode, the plant is to be designed, developed and managed by the consortium of Highland Automobiles Private Limited, Key Stone Energy Limited, and Astrix – at a cost of around Rs 120 Cr. The entire cost is to be borne by the bidder but that will be applicable only if the government signs the power royalty agreement with the consortium.

“The time period will be counted from the day the state government inks the deal with the consortium,” an official involved in the project said.  The NGR order says the contractors will have to shell out Rs. 50,000 as fine if they cross the 18 month deadline.

In order to make the NGT strictures effective, the government has to formalize the power purchase agreement as the consortium will only earn out of the shares the state will pay for building and producing energy.

Waste to energy —the first one in Jammu and Kashmir— has been approved by the state cabinet. Annoyed by the delay in the plant’s commissioning, experts said that the plant is of great public importance as Srinagar city generates about 450 MTs of municipal waste every day. Experts here believe the management of solid waste in a way that would generate electricity in the city was first ever innovation in municipal operations “but it seems the authorities are out to kill the very first innovative idea.”

In January 2018, Srinagar Municipal Corporation successfully contracted out the project to a consortium of three companies to establish and make operational a waste-to-energy plant at Achan within 18 months. The site activities were to start from April 2018 but the project remains in limbo ever since.

The aim of the project is to end the crisis of solid waste management in the Srinagar city, and to create a mechanism for waste management at an affordable cost.

Project Director of the consortium Kumail Ansari refused to comment over the delay in execution of project. “It is proper to get details from the government,” he said.

SMC commissioner Riyaz Ahmad Wani didn’t respond to repeated calls and texts by this reporter.