Waste-to-energy plants to get a boost, says Chidambaram

Scheme to encourage cities, municipalities to set up such projects to get encouragement

By Soma Basu
Published: Thursday 28 February 2013

To clean up garbage in cities, Finance Minister P Chidambaram mooted the much-debated waste-to-energy plants while presenting this year’s Budget.

“India tosses out several thousand tonnes of garbage each day. We will evolve a scheme to encourage cities and municipalities to take up waste-to-energy projects in Public Private Partnership which would be neutral to different technologies,” he said. He proposed to support municipalities that implement waste-to-energy projects through instruments such as viability gap funding, repayable grant and low-cost capital.

In the 1990s, many waste-to-energy plants were set up in the country. However, most of them failed. Failure of some high-profile projects—notably the Timarpur plant in Delhi—created a lull in their construction. The introduction of Clean Development Mechanism and carbon credits has sparked interest in them again.

There is potential to generate about 1,700 megawatt (MW) energy from urban waste (1,500 MW from municipal solid waste and 225 MW from sewage), and about 1,300 MW from industrial waste, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy states. The ministry is also actively promoting generation of energy from waste by providing subsidies and incentives for such projects. Estimates by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency indicate that India has so far realised only about 2 per cent of its waste-to-energy potential. A market analysis by Frost and Sullivan predicts the Indian municipal solid waste-to-energy market could be growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.7 per cent by 2013.

During the Budget presentation, the finance minister also proposed to continue Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme for the textile sector in the 12th Five Year Plan with an investment target of Rs 151,000 crore. The major focus would be on modernisation of the powerloom sector for which he has given Rs 2,400 crore.

To address the environmental concerns of the textile industry and to improve the effluent treatment infrastructure, the finance minister declared a new scheme called the Integrated Processing Development Scheme with an outlay of Rs 500 crore. It will be implemented in the 12th Five Year Plan. An allocation of Rs 50 crore has been made for the scheme for 2013-14.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, wastewater from the textile industry is highly alkaline and contaminated water bodies. It can cause environmental problems unless it is properly treated before disposal. Byssinosis, a chronic lung disease, is commonly observed among workers exposed to cotton, flax and hemp dust.


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