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Threats to Zero Waste Management

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, October 18, 2007 | 11:19 PM

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Timarpur Waste Management Company Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. (ILFS) have proposed a waste incineration plant to treat the city's solid waste and generate 6 MW of electricity. TWMPCL has applied to a United Nations body for tradable carbon credits.

MCD plans to process and treat 214,500 MT of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and produce 69,000 MT of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) in a year as per company's project design document. The project requires an investment of Rs.580 million. The promoters claim that the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance has agreed to provide 20% of the project's cost as a capital grant.

A Memorandum of Understanding between MCD and IL&FS was signed in March 2005 by D K Mittal, the CEO of TWMCPL and Rakesh Mehta, the then Commissioner of MCD. On 14 March 2005, MCD said that it plans to earn carbon credits from the project. TWMPCL has since applied for approval from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Executive Board to earn carbon credit. The project got listed before the board on 23 May 2006, and the board sought comments until 21 June. TWMCPL had submitted its project design document.

The CDM Executive Board of the UNFCCC supervises the Clean Development Mechanism part of the Kyoto Protocol, and is accountable to the Conference of Parties (COP), the decision making body for the protocol. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005, after which the CDM Executive Board started registering projects. The board is based in Bonn, Germany, at the UNFCCC Secretariat.

Threat to Zero Waste Management

Unmindful of subverting the Zero Waste initaitives, a waste to energy policy of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) that supports polluting incinerator technologies is being bulldozed down the throat of citizens amid massive criticism from civil society.

If Zero Waste advocates do not raise their voice in unison at a time when MNRE, Ministry of Science and Technology and Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Namo Narain Meena seeks industry’s cooperation for waste-to-energy technologies and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is attempting to involve the private sector in a big way in municipal waste management through dubious technological interventions, the sane waste management practices which Zer Waste advocates campaign for would get distorted beyond repair with adverse consequences.

Following an execuitive letter from MNRE, Government of India, CPCB is trying to evolve a consensus on inter-state movement of industrial hazardous wastes. Standards for common incinerator facility and industrial waste management would be finalised shortly. The CPCB is attempting to involve the private sector in a big way in municipal waste management, the Government had decided to move away form prescribing technical specifications for land fills and would now focus only on enforcement of standards. Also working group has been constituted to provide a guidance document for private sector involvement in waste management.These facts about which we all had an inkling were revealed on 22nd March, 2005 at FICCI Environment Conclave in Delhi.

While a serious threat to environment has arisen due to Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) of the Ministry of Science and Technology, developing a technology to convert waste into a source of toxic fuel, the above mentioned ministries are paying lip service to the concept of Integrated Zero Waste Management approach.
As is well known generation of hugely costly electricity from waste based on burn technology emits very toxic emissions.

All this is happening despite the fact that government is aware of the Integrated Zero Waste Management. A total sanitation programme at Gandhi Nagar Town panchayat in Vellore district where a village having 2,400 families generates garbage of over 48 tonnes per year has been noted by the government. Their garbage is converted into manure and recyclable waste generating over Rs 3 lakh in revenue. All the 2,400 families in the village are able to have a clean green village just by paying around Rs 10 per month per family. The scheme provides employment to members of the panchayat.

There is a need for a new policy structure that will fully embody the concepts of the three R’s – Recover, Reuse, Recycle – and set out the broad parameters for waste minimisation and utilisation by industry and municipalities.
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