So far, the civic body has spent more than ₹16 crore in installing 25 plants in various localities of the city, and an additional ₹1.5 crore towards annual maintenance besides operational costs per plant.
Head of PMC solid waste management department, Suresh Jagtap confirmed to Hindustan Times that these 25 plants are not working to their installed capacity and five plants are out of order. With a total capacity to process 125 tonnes of wet waste per day, these plants are running under capacity and are able to process only 80 tonnes per day. Five plants located at Peshwe Park, Hadapsar, Katraj Zoo and Baner are completely out of order, Jagtap said. The city generates 1,700 tonnes of garbage daily and an additional 250 tonnes during festivals. Nearly 45% of this garbage is organic.
About seven years ago when the first plant came up at Model Colony, the strategy was hailed as a “model” solid waste management project, fit to be replicated by other municipal corporations in the country. PMC also received a number of national awards for implementing the strategy. However, the civic officials now admit that the plan has failed.
The civic body also received a number of awards for its solid waste management strategy such as Nagar Ratna Award by JNNURM in 2010-2011, International Society of Waste Management Award in 2012, Jadhavpur University and Karnataka Government’s award in 2011-12 and a HUDCO award for “best practices” in 2012-13.
Civic officials now say that this locality-based biogas plant strategy has failed. “We are no longer in favour of erecting small capacity biogas plants in the city. The technology is unproven, the maintenance cost is high, skilled manpower is required and there is opposition to these plants from local residents and politicians,” a senior civic official said on condition of anonymity.
He said that under this strategy, every locality requires staff for collecting and sorting garbage, land for the biogas plant and an empty plot for undertaking the garbage sorting work. “All of this is being met with opposition from residents of the area,” the official said.
The strategy was aimed at the de-centralised management and disposal of wet garbage. However, now there is admission on the part of the civic officials and politicians that this strategy is difficult to implement. “Instead, we are now thinking of erecting medium to large capacity plants instead of small, 5- tonne plants,” he said.
Civic officials admitted that the administration is being overwhelmed by the rapidly escalating quantity of garbage in the city.