The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is likely to be slapped with a hefty fine by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) over the delay in completing bio-remediation of legacy waste at the Uruli Devachi and Phursungi garbage dumping site. The NGT-appointed committee has recommended that environmental compensation of Rs 42.23 crore be recovered from the PMC for not completing bio-remediation of the legacy waste.
Issues in PMC’s solid waste management have been under the scanner of the NGT for the last seven years and the civic body has been asked to resolve the issue as early as possible by taking all necessary steps. Hearing a petition filed by local resident Bhagwan Bhadale, the NGT, earlier this year, appointed an expert committee to assess the compensation for the delay in bio-remediation of legacy waste at the dumping site.
“Environmental compensation of Rs 42.23 crore has been assessed as on April 30 for delay in completing bio-remediation of the legacy waste,” it had said.
However, the PMC cited the pandemic and requested that the period from February 2020 to January 2022 be excluded while calculating the compensation amount. The expert committee then revised the compensation amount.
Last year, the NGT had fined the PMC Rs 2 crore for failure to clear legacy waste by October 2020 as per an assurance given to the tribunal. “The committee has submitted its report to NGT. The PMC has sought more time to respond to the report. The hearing on the petition was postponed on July 27,” said Asim Sarode, who is representing Bhadale in NGT.
In a series that highlighted the mounting problems in garbage disposal in Pune city, The Indian Express had reported the PMC’s claim of 100 per cent waste processing was not accurate. The report had pointed out that while the PMC has a wet waste processing facility, it relies more on sending the wet waste to agricultural land in and around the city.
The NGT-appointed committee has confirmed that there is a gap in wet waste processing of about 200 metric tonne per day (MTD) as total facilities available for wet waste processing is about 700 MTD while nearly 900 MTD garbage is generated per day.
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The 200 MTD extra wet waste, sent directly to farmers for composting, has not been authorised under Solid Waste Management Ruls 2016. According to the committee, the PMC has recently increased the capacity of wet waste processing by setting up four decentralized facilities, but there is need to install further additional facilities for processing wet waste.
It stated that there is no gap in dry waste processing as the PMC has capacity of 1,575 MTD waste disposal against generation of 1,200 MTD.
The PMC has also undertaken bio-remediation of the 18.57 lakh MT waste at the 35-acre dumping site of Uruli Devachi and Phursungi. It had been able to complete bio-remediation of 9.58 lakh MT waste on 17 acres as on April 30, and the civic body plans to complete bio-remediation of remaining 9 lakh MT by April 2024, said the committee.