Environment ministry relaxes norms to boost waste-to-energy plants
NEW DELHI: Activities such as segregation, composting, refuse-derived fuel (RFD) making and setting up of waste-to-energy plants up to 15 megawatt capacity at existing landfill sites, don’t require green clearance, the Union environment and forests ministry has said.
This is likely to reduce the time taken for setting up of such plants by at least six months. Composting, wasteto-energy and RFD making are crucial to manage the mountains of solid waste piled up in and around urban areas. State governments and municipal bodies need to expedite setting up of these facilities considering a little over two years is left to achieve complete sanitation by October 2019 under the Swachh Bharat initiative.
“In case activities of composting, RFD making and waste-to-energy plant (up to 15 mega watt) are proposed at existing landfill sites, they don’t attract the provision of EIA notification, 2006,” the environment ministry informed the housing and urban affairs ministry early this month.
Annually, urban areas in India generate about 68.8 million tonnes of municipal waste and a little over 20% is treated. According to government data, about five lakh tonnes of compost is prepared from waste against the potential to generate 18 lakh tonnes. Similarly, only 88.4 mega watt electricity s generated from waste against the potential to generate 511 mega watt annually.
However, the environment ministry said any new municipal solid waste disposal site or landfill site will require prior environmental clearance. “If the activities of incineration, RFD making and waste-to-energy are proposed along with the new site of solid waste disposal/landfill, it is advisable to obtain an integrated prior environmental clearance,” the ministry said.
The ministry clarified these in response to a request from urban affairs ministry to revisit the process of prior environmental clearance for solid waste managementtreatment and processing facilities. The green ministry said it was noticed that locating a landfill site or municipal solid waste disposal site was a contentious issue and there was a tendency to locate them far from habitation, but near forests, rivers, ponds, wetlands and low lying areas, which were ecologically sensitive and required prior environmental management.
“Since forests, rivers, ponds, wetlands and low lying areas are critical from environment point of view, it may not be appropriate to exempt this activity of municipal solid waste disposal site or landfill site from the requirement of prior environmental clearance,” it said.