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Why all these are not applicable to Tuticorin port or the one planned in AP or WB ?
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Waste-to-energy as a placebo
In her petition to the Supreme Court, Patel demanded a stay on the subsidy to wte plants and an independent review of such plants based on the experience in the Lucknow and Hyderabad plants. In 2005, the Supreme Court ordered the creation of a committee to study the performance of wte plants. This 14-member committee was chaired by Dilip K Biswas, former chairperson of the Central Pollution Control Board. "Most of the members have a direct or indirect interest in the promotion of wte," says Patel. "It is a case where the subject of investigation itself (mnre) has taken up the responsibility of review and assessment," says Gopal Krishna of the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.
The committee's report came out in December 2005.Two of its members--Shyam Asolkar, professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai's Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, and Girish Sant of the Pune-based Prayas Energy group--submitted a "differing report".
Both the reports raised apprehensions about the wte plants at Hyderabad and Vijaywada. "Some discrepancy about use of biomass and plant load factor... was noticed... these project could be better engineered," says the majority report. The differing report is more direct "It should be recognised that a sizable fraction of the power generation from both plants is coming from combustion of supplementary fuel, that is, biomass (rice husk, in the case of selco)." It stressed that biomass was contributing 31 per cent and 52 per cent of the total energy in case of the selco and Vijaywada plants, respectively. mnre allows only up to 30 per cent supplementary fuel in wte power plants. Clearly, both plants are violating norms.
And this is based on data provided by the project promoters. The differing report questions the quality of their data "The variation in the heat content of [waste pellets] over months is large--from below 1,000 kCal (kilo calories) to over 4,000 kCal/kg. Such a large variation is difficult to understand. Low heat content in some non-monsoon months (such as October-December) and high heat content in some monsoon months (June and July) are also unexpected..."
The majority report justified the subsidy on wte projects because "the operational problems of one plant should not form the basis to judge the efficacy of a particular technology option or for rejecting the technology as a whole". It attributed the closure of the Lucknow plant to its operation at low capacities for one year due to an ineffective garbage segregation system. The differing report says the reason can't be established, because the plant shut down before monitoring started.
Based on bio-methanation, the Lucknow plant was set up by Enkem Engineers of Chennai at a cost of Rs 76 crore. mnre gave it subsidies of Rs 15 crore. It was planned that 300 tonnes of garbage from Lucknow would be processed into 115 tonnes of volatile solids for incineration to generate 5 mw of electricity. For most of its operational days, the power output was between 0.2 mw to 0.6 mw. The matter to note is that the plant can use only 115 tonnes of 300 tonnes of garbage supplied--the remaining has to be dumped. Moreover, out of the 115 tonnes used, significant amounts are rejected.
"How can you call them wte plants when they use other feedstock? They should not be entitled to the wte subsidies," says S S Khanna, former adviser to the Planning Commission, describing the selco plant. "Promoters jump to get the subsidy and set up the plant without ascertaining the physical and chemical characteristics of municipal solid waste, and when it does not work, they burn material which can be used in better ways. It is these failed projects the mnre is trying to showcase to sell more such projects all over the country," he says. "Increasingly, cities are abandoning composting and waste stabilisation (as required by the rules) for wte. It promotes waste generation because garbage is profit, undermining the 'reduce, reuse, recycle' credo of sustainable waste management," says Patel.
wte promoters say such projects are successful in industrialised countries. "What is good enough for them is good enough for us," says an mnre official. The Supreme Court doesn't buy mnre's argument. On January 4, 2007, it refused to lift the stay on subsidy for wte projects that was imposed in May 2005 in the case filed by Patel.