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Waste to energy project stuck at proposal stage

According to reports, inordinate delay on the part of UP government in allowing it to set up a multi-crore-rupee waste to energy (WTE) project in the state has left a US based company completely frustrated. The company, which has evinced interest in setting up the ambitious project six months ago, now says that it is deeply hurt by the UP government’s indifference towards the project. The state government on the other hand argues that the project is exorbitant and the efficiency of the technology proposed has not been proved by precedence.

In an email response to TOI, president of the American company Renewable Energy Alternatives, Bernard Schmidt, said, “despite our offer to bring in 100% financing and operation and maintenance of the plant for the first 5 to 10 years, the UP government has been continually preoccupied with other issues. Our people have been frustrated with this result.”

Schmidt added the company had recently offered to handle the entire process and start developing a smaller pilot plant of 25MW that could be up and running by the end of 2014. “Even such a generous offer has met with indifference,” he rued.

“I believe the government led by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is interested in this project. But I also believe the government is overwhelmed at times and does not see the advantage of delegating tasks to the private sector to ensure progress and completion of these projects while they need to spend time on political matters their office demands,” he said in the email.

When contacted, special secretary, urban development, Sri Parkash Singh said the company did not coordinate with the state government properly. “The technology the company claims has not been proven worthy yet. Also, the cost of the project the company has been citing is exorbitant,” Singh said.

In June, the company made a presentation before urban development minister Azam Khan. The company had then said that the state government was convinced with the project and may allow it to survey the various sites in UP for setting up a plant. Things changed with the passage of time for reasons better known to the state government.

The company had proposed to adopt a technique by which garbage is used to produce synthetic gas, also referred to as ‘sin gas’, which further leads to production of power. Urban development department officials said the technique highlighted that it does not leave any wastage of byproducts like ash after garbage is treated. The quality of the ash is well suited for use in laying roads and construction purposes as well.

The project was proposed to be at least 10 times bigger than what was conceptualised by the previous Samajwadi Party government for Hardoi road in Lucknow. Though a plant started functioning in 2003, it was abandoned a year later due to absence of proper solid-waste management and segregation module.

Holding the portfolio of power, CM Akhilesh Yadav, a graduate in environmental engineering, has been showing keen interest in encouraging production and use of alternate energy sources in UP. In January, government approved UP’s first-ever solar energy policy. Under this policy, a target of producing 500 mega watts (MW) electricity through solar energy by March 2017 has been set. The fate of the implementation of the policy now appears to hang in balance.

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