Widespread opposition to waste-to-energy plants by local communities

The State government’s announcement of five waste-to-energy plants likely to be commissioned in two years has riled people living around the proposed sites. Residents and citizens’ groups have for long been demanding closure of the waste processing plants, seeking prioritisation of decentralised waste processing by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

In response to the government’s plan to set up a plant at Kannahalli, Channappa from the Kannahalli-Seegehalli Kasa Vilevari Horata Samiti said that neither the government nor the civic body had any knowledge of the ground reality. The Kannahalli and Seegehalli waste processing plants are a stone’s throw from the Kempegowda Layout which has several colleges and schools. The Seegehalli plant has not been functioning for the past several months now.

“Why has no one spared a thought for the problems that could arise for the communities living in the locality? Neither has the local community been consulted, nor has the local body (gram panchayat) given permission for the waste-to-energy plant,” he said, and alleged that even the directions of the court have not been followed.

Residents in Mavallipura, where two waste-to-energy plants have been proposed in the 45-acre dumping yard, expressed a similar sentiment. B. Srinivas, Dalit Sangharsha Samiti activist, who had filed a PIL petition in the High Court in 2012 on the unscientific dumping of waste, said: “Though the dumping of waste has stopped, there has been no attempt made to repair the environmental damage caused. The groundwater is contaminated and the leachate has polluted the lake. According to a preliminary health survey, several people in the area have developed health issues,” he said.

Deepu Chandran, a resident of Electronics City, who has been working on waste management, pointed out that the city generates around 5,000 tonnes of waste every day. The proposed waste-to-energy plants would require a total of 4,000 tonnes a day. “This only means that unsegregated waste will be sent there. The impetus on segregation, dry waste collection centres will be gone... it will negate whatever progress the city has achieved in waste management,” he said.

BBMP forges ahead

Even in the face of stiff resistance, BBMP officials defended the move to set up these plants. A senior official, who spoke to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, said that power purchase agreements (PPA) have almost been finalised for plants to be set by Satarem in Kannahalli and Indiem in Doddabidarakallu.

The PPA for plants by Firm Green and NEG proposed in Mavallipura are yet to be submitted to the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC). For the plant proposed in Marenahalli, the BBMP had written to Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban, to allot the quarry.

The official claimed that only segregated wet waste and refuse derived fuel (RDF) would be sent to the five proposed plants in line with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. “The other waste to energy plants that failed did not follow SWM Rules. This will not be the case with these plants,” the official added.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 3:41:14 AM |

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