Written by Bisma Bhat
The Jammu and Kashmir government appears to be facing a race against time to set-up its first ‘waste-to-energy’ plant in Srinagar despite the National Green Tribunal extending the deadline by 18 months in December last year. The NGT has also warned of a likely fine of Rs 50,000 for each day of delay.
In 2015, the tribunal had passed an order for setting up a 5MW waste-to-energy plant in Srinagar and the city’s Municipal Corporation had been tasked with its installation. However, the SMC is yet to establish the plant despite reminders issued to the SMC by the NGT.
While speaking to SMC commissioner, Riyaz Ahmad Wani said: “We have finalized the draft Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the state government and within two years the plant will be established and in between these two years we will co-process the waste produced for making compost or Rashtriya Chemical & Fertilizer (RCF).”
“We are working on the treatment of solid waste but it is a long-term process and tenders have been issued. It will take about two years to start the plant,” Chief Sanitation Office of the SMC, Sufi Mohammad Akbar told The Indian Express. He also told that door-to-door collection of the waste is in progress.
A resident of Batamalo area of the city, Ishfaq Ahmad said, “Waste is inevitable. There is no proper procedure for collecting the waste. The SMC has promised a door-to-door collection of waste but no such facility is available. So the people throw waste on roads and in water bodies when they find no dustbin in their locality.”
Official data of the corporation reveals that the Srinagar city – with a population of 1.4 million – produces between 380 metric tons to 450 metric tons of solid waste every day. About 60 per cent of this is dumped at Achen, a dump yard on the outskirts of Srinagar and 40% includes the debris of the construction material which is used for leveling of low-level areas.
SMC has only one dumping site at Syedpora, Achan which comprises of 540 kanals of land. The waste produced per day is collected and brought to dumping site daily.
“Every day more than 100 trucks of garbage are brought to land-fill site in Achen. The biodegradable and non biodegradable wastes are being treated separately,” said Nazir Ahmad Baba, Solid Waste Management Officer at the SMC. He added that biodegradable waste is converted into compost which is given to the people free of cost on experiment basis while non-biodegradable waste is dumped in a separate cell.
A resident of Syedpora Achan, Firdouse Ahmad told The Indian Express, “Although mechanical procedures separate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste which results in the formation of compost but the process of recycling non-biodegradable waste is yet to start.” He also stated that loads of non-degradable waste get added day after day creating heaps of un-decomposed waste unloaded in a cell untreated and uncovered which generate foul smell which spread over the area that gives birth to number of diseases.” No use of disinfectants is being made, he further said.
Under Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, segregation of waste at source is critical. The rules state that the local bodies should “ensure segregation of waste at source by the generators as prescribed in these rules, facilitate collection of segregated waste in separate streams, handover recyclable material to either to the authorized waste pickers or the authorized recyclers. The bio-degradable waste shall be processed, treated and disposed off through composting or bio-methanation within the premises as far as possible. The residual waste shall be given to the waste collectors or agency as directed by the local body.”
Nazir Ahmad Baba said, “We have started ‘source segregation’ process of waste and for that we have planted about 50 machines that will benefit the whole community.” He also stated that SMC will soon decentralize composting process in four zones.
“We will soon install auto composter in four of our zones so that waste produced will be segregated on zonal bases and very less waste will be taken to land fill site,” he noted.
Meanwhile, in 2007 and 2016, residents held massive protests at Achen landfill site over the dumping of garbage. The residents claimed that the dumping area had become unhealthy for them over the past two decades. The angry mob wounded 40 employee of SMC in the agitation.