The city’s first special economic zone (SEZ) – SEEPZ in Andheri (East) is turning green with a zero waste policy using renewable energy. In August, the 111-acre sprawling SEZ installed a biogas plant at its premises to convert five metric tonnes of wet waste generated every day into cooking gas.
The plant can cater to the fuel needs of six canteen kitchens inside the SEZ by December. Built by Ashoka Biogreen Private Limited and to be managed by Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS), a city-based NGO, the cost of the renewable energy project is Rs90 lakh. The ministry of new and renewable energy has borne one-fourth of the cost. “The idea came up while looking for alternative ways of waste management,” said NPS Monga, development commissioner, SEEPZ-SEZ. His predecessor, Anita Agnihotri, initiated the project.
The bulk of the five metric tonnes of wet waste at the SEZ, where around 80,000 people work in three-shifts, is generated from six canteens. Currently, around 20 women working with Vasundhara co-operative society, affiliated to SMS, segregate wet and dry waste.
“We spend around Rs20 lakh annually to manage the waste at the SEZ. Along with the wet waste, a lot of garden waste from the campus will be used as raw material for the biogas plant,” said PS Raman, deputy development commissioner, SEEPZ-SEZ.
The biogas plant uses the combined anaerobic and aerobic digester system technology developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). This technology takes 19 days to decompose waste and produce biogas. At its optimum level, the plant can fuel 13-20 cooking gas cylinders. “The plant has a digester capacity of 1.5 lakh litres,” said Sanjay Bodke, director, Ashoka Biogreen Pvt Ltd.
“This model of managing waste should make the BMC realise that decentralisation of solid waste is not the way ahead,” said Jyoti Mhapsekar, president, SMS.