The annual budget presented by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has acknowledged the fact that disposal of solid waste has become a major issue in the Capital and huge landfills are causing air and groundwater pollution.
Dikshit, who also holds the environment portfolio, has admitted in her speech that three of the four existing landfill sites are overflowing and fresh sites are not available. She admitted that even the two new waste-to-energy plants being constructed at Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana road will not solve the problem as the daily generation of solid waste in Delhi has reached 9,000 tonnes.
But she has, since then, focused on poor financial viabilities of waste management technologies currently being used in Delhi rather than the efforts that the government intends to make to address environmental concerns or find new sites.
Notably, residents of Sukhdev Vihar have been protesting against a waste-to-energy plant in Okhla citing environmental issues, and have moved courts to seek shifting or closure.
Dikshit has said, “Present technologies do not allow cost-recovery. Our priority has to be on scientific waste disposal, not energy generation, which is welcome.” However, in her budget speech, she announced that the refuse derived fuel, presently taxed at 12.5 %, will now be exempted. This means more energy production from waste management.
“We have to act decisively and my government will find the resources necessary to fund initiatives so that this accumulation of wastes is stopped, if not reversed,” she said. “We have decided to step in through innovative financing mechanisms. These would include contributing equity to PPP projects, viability gap funding to attract investors and favourable taxation regime.”
The economic survey of the Delhi government says the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi, which are managing solid waste, have ensured private sector participation in transportation of solid waste in eight city zones. The same will be done in four more zones.
However, segregation of waste at source, a standard practice in several countries, is still not happening, a main reason why Delhi has not been able to manage its waste effectively.