Lack of concrete efforts to assess the character of solid waste generated here and identify a suitable technology for processing remains a bottleneck in the government’s efforts to resolve the worsening garbage crisis.

Even though the Union government had laid out extensive guidelines for collection, transportation and disposal of municipal solid waste, neither the Kochi Corporation nor the State Pollution Control Board or the Suchitwa Mission has been able to carry out a scientific study before announcing a mega treatment plant worth over Rs. 500 crore at Brahmapuram.

Senior officials of the Suchitwa Mission admitted that there was no clarity on the technology to be adopted at the plant.

The waste-to-energy incineration method was placed on the backburner after the companies that came forward in the first round of tendering gave an unrealistic picture on electricity generation.

The Department of Urban Affairs has issued an order recommending the ‘Swiss challenge approach’, a competitive bidding process, for implementing the facility. No bidder will have a predefined advantage in this process. It also provides companies with considerable incentives to propose new ideas.

But experts have cautioned the authorities to first identify a suitable site and proper technology for the Brahmapuram plant. V. N. Sivasankara Pillai, former Director of the School of Environmental Studies at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), pointed out that the local bodies were more interested in utilising the huge funds earmarked by the Centre for solid waste management.

“But the sad fact is that they are only concerned about the collection of waste as it involves purchase of several vehicles and equipment. Even the estimate that Kochi generates around 350 tonnes of waste is inflated. But the advantage for the contractors involved in collection and transportation of waste is that the procurement and recruitment of workers would always be based on this figure,” he said.

Prof. Pillai wondered why the corporation authorities and the pollution control board failed to even realize the fact that the waste generated here contains lots of leachate.

“Composting technology failed as the region experiences high levels of humidity. We need to adopt technologies that will recover majority of the recyclables material, ensure zero emission and be cost-effective,” he said.

K. Sajeevan, Chairman of the State Pollution Control Board, recalled that his office had earlier recommended that Kochi could start a scientific solid waste management programme by setting up a plant capable of processing about 100 tonnes.

He said that the board had not yet carried out a scientific study to assess the character and quantum of waste generated here.

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