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Vox Pop: Structure eludes waste management

Vox Pop: Structure eludes waste management

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is in its nascent stages in India, but offers opportunities to private participants. As first mover cities grope their way through structuring solid waste management (SWM), experts from public and private sectors tell us whether PPP is working in SWM.

What is your PPP business model in SWM?

The basic business model is that the government provides concessional rights by providing land (at concessional rates of lease) and certain rights for collection, treatment and disposal of wastes within a certain region or locality. The developer is expected to establish infrastructure for collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, and to ensure compliance with environment regulations.

Ramky is working on numerous PPP projects in SWM. We are active in industrial hazardous solid wastes, municipal solid wastes and biomedical waste management on the PPP model. We have different divisions for industrial and hazardous wastes, MSW, medical wastes and other wastes. Predominantly these are based on sources of wastes, their characteristics and the nature in which they are treated and disposed off and also based on regulatory implications of the same.

As in other sectors, such projects can take on a range of types encompassing various roles, ownership arrangements, and allocations of risk between the private and public partners. In SWM projects, we follow almost all types of PPP business models. However, preferably, many of the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) or municipalities enter into concessions (of 15/20/30 years) and/or agreements under BOT and its variants. Under these modes, the responsibility of construction and operations is with the concessionaire, while the ownership lies with the ULB.

In addition, we also follow the BOOT model, under which we make the entire investment for procurement of collection and transportation, equipment, plant and machinery for processing and disposal facility. Currently, A2Z is working on several SWM projects based on PPP.

How viable is SWM? As more cities are considering PPP projects in MSW, what should be done to make it systematically viable?

Viability of SWM is a function of the tipping fee being paid. In India, we have numerous contracts with varying tipping fees ranging from royalty to high tipping fee, projects with tipping fee are sure to see viability and projects with royalty and low tipping fee will not be viable.

Municipalities should go through a structured mechanism of developer selection, or there will be failures in progress. Municipalities should understand and accept that they have to pay money to get the wastes scientifically treated and disposed off.

One of the biggest issues in SWM today is availability of land for landfills—and the requirement is growing at an alarming rate. Even where it is available, the neighbourhoods are often in dispute with the city because of the stench. How do you handle this issue? Who addresses such issues?

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has prepared a master plan for treatment and disposal of MSW through a Danish consultant, COWI, with the financial assistance of UNOP, and are presently in the process of putting into place three waste-to-energy plants that will take care of 60 per cent of the total generation.

Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) owns 653 acre devoted to MSW. CCMC has also been practising open dumping of MSW at a site in Vellalore, 15 km away from the city. Ever since the corporation started dumping the waste during 2003, the neighbourhood had objected the dumping of waste at the site. The residents conducted several agitations besides filing a PIL in the High Court of Madras.

We were on our way to implement an Integrated Solid Waste Management Project at the impugned site, and so the Court ruled in our favour.

About 67 acres of government land is being utilised at Turmuri, outside Belgaum, for treatment and scientific land filling. The land filling is managed by Ramky Enviro Engineers. The aerobic condition with the culture will reduce the stench. However, there is still resistance from neighbouring villages.

Yes, availability of land for landfills is surely a critical issue. However, it is pertinent to note that legislation does not permit wastes to be directly landfilled and expects all organic wastes to be processed and converted into useful products recyclables, compost, manure, biogas or energy) and thus only limited amount of inerts are expected to reach the landfill. This however, is at a nascent stage and could surely take some time before it is effective implemented.

Neighbourhoods are usually in dispute and this is not just an Indian issue, this is an international Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) psychology. That is why public consultation is critical.

The issue is quite challenging and we are aiming to handle it through public consultation. However, with the level of political involvement and based on past experiences, the Indian communities are not happy with the waste disposal facilities, and rightly so, given their unsatisfactory experiences in the past.

The NIMBY issues are to be addressed jointly by local authorities and us as developers. Largely, only developers seem to be addressing those issues right now. The efforts are surely not commensurate and need to be improved and surely results will follow.

Since our landfills are mostly open dump type, how is your city handling the ensuing sanitation and health issues? What are some of such issues (poisoning, groundwater contamination, etc) and to what extent has it impacted the areas surrounding landfills?

We have not been handling the sanitation and health issue scientifically in our existing landfill sites. However, we are compacting the garbage and covering it with C and D waste on daily basis and collecting the leachate through drains.

As soon as the compost plant and sanitary landfill are put into operation, the effluents and gases will be contained. The leachate generated will be treated and reused. The landfill gas will be converted into energy. CCMC is exploring the possibility of availing the CDM benefits, and a proposal has already been submitted to the ADB for consideration.

Our landfill sites are being scientifically managed as per MSW rule by putting clay, HDPE liner, sand, stones and leachate collection facility. So there is no question of contamination or impacted areas surrounding the landfill site.

One of the problems with increasing land requirement for landfills is that our MSW is not segregated. What are our cities doing, or planning, to segregate the waste, and therefore segregate landfills? To what extent, and in what timeframe, will this action help decrease the pressure on land?

CCMC is evincing keen interest to ensure effective segregation of waste at the source itself. It is a well established fact that the general public has to be necessarily educated and be made aware of the SWM project to be implemented in any ULB. On that principle, CCMC has already distributed 10 litre capacity Polyethylene bins to all households.

Setting up of a processing plant is only a way to meet out this solution in the initial phase. Our processing plant will start working by next month, after which we will get into household segregation.

We have not completed the process of segregation of waste in Belgaum yet. But we have started in some areas for segregation of waste at households in ‘model wards’. We are planning to have segregation of waste at the doorstep, and also, we have mandated wholesalers to sell plastic bags that are above four micron only, so that they can be used for recycling. Ramky, who owns our landfill plant, is planning to put up a primary segregation unit in their plant shortly.

How are waste effluents and gases being contained? What recycling and reuse linkages and processes are in place? Do you use Integrated Waste Management?

Our ULB is scientifically managing the landfill site with collection of leachete effluent. After collection, it is treated in the leachete treatment plant, and after treatment it is used for gardening purposes.

Now Coimbatore has been included one among the 63 mission cities under the JNNURM scheme launched by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. An Integrated Solid Waste Management Project has been sanctioned by the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC), Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India in 2007 at a cost of Rs 96.51 crore. CCMC has to implement the project with the funding pattern of 50 per cent grant from the GoI, 20 per cent grant from the GoTN and 30 per cent from its own source.

[Unsegregated] land filling of waste discourages the very principle of self-sustainability as it increases the dependence of a project on government grants, thus greatly minimising the possibility of resource recovery from waste.

Our company’s understanding of the concept of waste management has pioneered the theory of Integrated Resource Recovery Facility (IRRF) right from Collection and Transportation (C&T) to Processing and Disposal (P&D), utilising almost all items that have not remained useful in their present form any longer. In line with our self-sustainability principles, we ensure almost 100 per cent utilisation of the entire waste, thereby putting the sanitary landfill to minimal use.

Right from project initiation, we follow an inclusive approach in all our projects to include all the stakeholders: local citizens, state, ULB and most importantly, the garbage dependent populace including rag pickers to ensure no issue crops up during the latter stages of the project.

Will integrated landfills, ie, using a single location for a number of neighbouring cities or towns, help? Are you taking any steps in that direction?

Our landfill has been designed for handling the waste of Coimbatore and also the peripheral ULBs (three municipalities and 12 town panchayats) which will last for 25 years. A proposal for urban agglomeration is underway.

MCD is continuously taking it with the neighbouring state but till date no success has been achieved.

What new technologies are you applying a) towards sustainability so as to contain effluents and gases emanating from MSW, and b) to recycle MSW?

MCD has had the study done on concentration and quantity of green house gases in the existing landfills through World Bank funding.

We are currently adopting recycling, composting, vermi composting, refuse derived fuel (RDF), leachate treatment and land filling which ensures reduction of wastes to landfills, recovers materials hence reducing carbon impacts on the nature and creates sustainability by consumption of the new materials.

However, with past bad experiences in waste-to-energy in India, we are placing significant efforts to bring about cost effective and appropriate solutions for waste-to-energy.

What are our cities doing, and not doing, to reduce the generation of more non-degradable waste?

Well, across the world the experience of reducing non-degradable wastes like plastics has not seen much success as urbanisation and better economy results in higher waste generation and less degradable materials being generated owing to affordability. Indian cities are no different. Of course, efforts to reduce the same are just not there or are inadequate.

Do you not believe that public training is an imperative part in arresting the growth of MSW?

CCMC have also taken up an awareness creation programme under the JNNURM. For this purpose we have awarded the work to Centre for Environment Education, Bangalore who will run the programme for 10 years. The scope of the work is:

• To form participatory committees and conduct group meetings in the wards
• Publicity on local television
• Advertisement in newspapers
• Preparation and distribution of pamphlets
• Preparation and erection of banners
• Preparation and exhibiting of awareness by creating slides for cinema theatres
• Conducting street plays
• Organising rally involving school and college students
• Imparting awareness training to municipal staff
• Conducting other kinds of events

For segregation of MSW, MCD has taken many steps since 2004 like workshop, distribution of IEE material, placing blue and green bins and having a clause in the contract on outsourced activities.

Communities should be motivated enough to solve their common problems themselves. This enables them to become agents of their own development instead of just positive beneficiaries of developmental aid.

We conduct training programmes via multidisciplinary nature of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) for the citizens, and capacity building programmes for ULB officials and staff. We hope that these programmes will create the required change and instill better attitude and behavioural.

In what timeframe do you estimate the city will reach the desirable stage of waste management? What are the parameters on which you would measure it?

I would give it about five years. The parameters that would be used to measure it would include aesthetics (dustbin surroundings, removal of open dumps, good quality collection and transport equipment), scientific waste management organics being effectively processed and inerts being landfilled with appropriate leachate treatment).

Intangible parameters would include improvement of health of city, it is tough to measure though.

Integrated SWM in Coimbatore

Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) has undertaken an Integrated Solid Waste Management project under JNNURM for implementation in two parts:

Part I of the project, comprising source segregation of waste, primary collection, secondary collection and transportation of segregated waste up to the transfer stations will be implemented by the corporation itself at a cost of Rs 26.91 crore.

Part II of the project, comprising the component works beyond the transfer stations, namely construction of four modern transfer stations, secondary transportation of waste up to the processing site (compost plant)/disposal site (sanitary landfill facility), construction of compost plant, construction of sanitary landfill facility including closure of the three existing dumpsites will be implemented under PPP at a cost of Rs 68.93 crore.

Part I of the project has been taken up for implementation by the CCMC itself. All the components included in this part have been completed. Part II of the project has been taken up for implementation through PPP mode. Out of the approved cost of Rs 68.93 crore, 70 per cent of the cost will be met out from the Government of India grant and the Tamil Nadu state government share (50 and 20 per cent, respectively), while the remaining 30 per cent will be invested by the private partner. This package work was awarded to the successful bidder BEIL-UPL (consortium), in Mumbai on 31 October 2007. A concession agreement was signed between the CCMC and the concessionaire on 19 November 2007 (20 year concession period). The concessionaire has formed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Coimbatore Integrated Waste Management Company, in January 2008, for implementing the above project. CCMC has already handed over the land, measuring about 757,819 sq m, to the SPV for construction of modern transfer stations at four locations, construction of modern compost plant and sanitary landfill facility at the existing Vellalore dumpsite.

The SPV has completed the work of scientific closure of the old and existing dumpsites at the Ondipudur and Kavundampalayam areas. The work of scientific closure of the old and existing dumpsites at the Vellalore site is in progress. After completion of the entire works, the surrounding areas will be free from environmental pollution and will be transformed into a garden and park, besides providing for other entertainment activities and also creating an aesthetic ambience. The SPV has already procured the necessary plant machinery, equipment, tippers and vehicles for secondary transportation and compost plant/landfill operations. The SPV has completed the work of construction of modern transfer stations at Peelamedu and Sathy Road together, and the operation and maintenance (O&M) of both sited are in good progress.

The works in respect to construction of a modern transfer station in the Ukkadam area is nearing completion. The land for construction of the fourth transfer station at Ondipudur area has since been identified and after observing the procedural formalities the construction work will commence. The construction of a Sanitary Landfill Facility (SLF) at Vellalore is completed and is ready for use. The work of construction of a modern compost plant at Vellalore is nearing completion. As soon as the same is completed and ready for operation all the inerts and the rejects from the processing plant will be disposed off at the SLF. All the mandatory requirements as contemplated in the MSW (M&W) Rules 2000 will be met with.

The proposed improvements to the existing SWM system in Coimbatore will augment better living standard of the public and also provide a pollution free environment.

Anshul Mishra, Commisioner Coimbatore Municipal Corporation

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