Notwithstanding the Kochi Corporation Council’s commitment to bear the expenses of the collection and disposal of biomedical waste, terms are yet to be reached with the common biomedical waste treatment plant of Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Limited (KEIL) at Ambalamedu, where the waste is now being incinerated.
Under the existing arrangement, four private agencies collect biomedical waste against a fee from users and transport it to KEIL on a daily basis. Apart from the Corporation, they collect biomedical waste from Kalamassery, Thrikkakara and Thripunithura municipalities. The Corporation volunteered to bear the expenses of treatment after it came in for heavy criticism from the Opposition over the allegedly high user fee.
“Users will now have to bear only the transportation cost, which comes to around ₹12 per kilogram. We have finalised negotiations and conveyed our requirements to KEIL. The new system will kick in once negotiations with the private agencies are also completed,” said Mayor M. Anilkumar.
However, it is learnt that except for a letter from the Corporation Secretary asking for subsidised rates for treating biomedical waste against a guaranteed volume, no notable discussions about the terms have been held so far with KEIL.
“We cannot unilaterally revise the fee since it is a government approved rate. The cost of diesel for working the incinerator comprises a major component of the rate, which was fixed two years ago. In fact, we were actually looking for an upward revision of the rate considering the significant hike in fuel price since then. However, a reduction in cost could be considered against a guaranteed minimum volume of waste. But that would need extensive deliberations at various levels since ours is a limited company,” said KEIL sources.
The letter also reportedly mentioned a potential investment of the Corporation in KEIL as part of the arrangement though the Mayor said no such proposal was on the table. The Corporation Secretary could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.
At present, KEIL daily handles on an average 700 to 800 kilograms of biomedical waste generated across all four local bodies, including the Kochi Corporation, and charges the private agencies ₹28.50 for incinerating a kilogram of waste.