The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) ambitious plan to process solid waste of four municipal corporations and two municipal councils at a site in Taloja has run into rough weather.
The MMRDA is facing allegations of unduly favouring the winning bidder, Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd, by violating tender norms. The municipal corporations of Kalyan and Ulhasnagar are also opposed to the project, feeling that transporting the garbage to Taloja just to process it would unnecessarily inflate costs.
The MMRDA’s solid waste management proposal covers four municipal corporations — Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli, Ulhasnagar and Bhiwandi-Nizampur — and two municipal councils – Ambernath and Kulgaon-Badlapur. The waste will be processed at a 117-hectare site in Taloja. A private player was to run the project, expected to clear about 2,000 tonnes of solid waste daily over a 25-year period.
Eighteen companies showed interest when the MMRDA invited bids. The agency shortlisted Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd and plans to award the contract to this firm. The firm had bid for the project in association with the international Changquang Sanfeng Environmental Group Company.
Detractors point out that despite the two companies bidding as a consortium, the actual power of agreement was signed with a company called Sanfeng Group, while the work experience profile submitted was produced by a firm called Changquang company.
MMRDA officials claimed that no company was favoured and this discrepancy was merely a typographical error.
The agency, however, admitted it was facing problems from municipal corporations.
“They are a bit worried about the cost. We will need to reconsider the project if corporations are unwilling to take part,” metropolitan commissioner Rahul Asthana said.
The Taloja dumping ground is not only expected to be free of stench, but will also generate solar electricity, and produce compost through organic farms. In an attempt to move dumping grounds away from human settlements, the MMRDA had proposed regional dumping grounds, in which all municipal corporations and councils could dump their waste.
These sites will segregate garbage scientifically before disposing of them, and even use chemicals to mask the smell of garbage. The project will be implemented on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis: the developer will have to spend Rs1,000 crore on the project and is allowed to commercially exploit the compost created on-site.