Amritsar: After several unsuccessful attempts to revive the failed solid waste management (SWM) project, the Amritsar municipal corporation is getting into a huddle to finalise the long-pending project.
This is the third attempt by the MC to revive the project, which came to a standstill in 2012 after Antony Waste Handling Cell pulled out of it. The first attempt was made in October 2013, while the second attempt was made in August 2014.
Since its annunciation in 2009, the cost of the project has increased manifold. From the initial cost of Rs 36 crore, the project’s cost increased to Rs 72 crore and later Rs 95 crore.
The MC is likely to invite tenders for both first and second phases of the projects, which entail door-to-door collection of garbage in special bins and construction of a solid waste treatment plant at Bhagtanwala landfill next week.
On Sunday, the corporators had a meeting with the MC authorities concerned, while the officials concerned are likely to meet bureaucrats in Chandigarh in this regard on Monday.
The project was announced in 2009 under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with an aim to deal with garbage dotting various nooks and crannies of the city. It was a brainchild of former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, the estimated cost of which was around Rs 36 crore.
First phase fails
To ensure effective execution, the project was divided into two phases. The first phase entailed door-to-door collection of garbage in special bins through mechanised carriages, which came through. However, it was stalled for almost two years thereafter the matter was taken to a court. In August 2012, Antony Waste Handling Cell Private Limited, the company handling the project, pulled out of it citing non-payment of dues.
In 2013, the Punjab and Haryana high court gave its nod for the project and allotted a six-month timeline for the MC to hire a company to run the project.
Several deadlines missed, no action yet
The MC missed several deadlines for inviting tenders for the project, which the MC could not finalise on account of the costs being too high. On May 29, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced setting up of a solid waste management wing to solve the garbage problem in urban areas.
MC resorts to tractor-trolleys
Unable to revive the first phase of the project, the MC started lifting of garbage using tractor-trolleys to deal with the unsanitary conditions. Garbage was being dumped at Bhagtanwala landfill, as designated by the Punjab and Haryana high court and the Master Plan for Amritsar as the place for dumping more than 500 tonnes of city’s waste.
Second Phase a non-starter
The second phase, however, never materialised. In this phase, a manure generation plant was to come up at Bhagtanwala landfill site, but it never came up.
Meanwhile, the dumping of garbage at the Bhagtanwala dump continued till early November 2014. However, it was ceased when Bhagtanwala residents held a 42-day protest during which they demanded shifting of the dump as well as relocation of the site for the proposed solid waste treatment plant citing violation of the MSW 2000 Rules and various health concerns.
Dump at Fatahpur
A few days later, the dumping was started at Fatahpur amidst police protection. The MC had to face resistance from the residents, who wanted the civic body to look for an alternate site.
Garbage dumping was put on hold again and heaps increased on the city’s streets when the residents of Fatahpur supported by Tarun Chugh, BJP’s national secretary, gave an ultimatum to the MC to look for another dumping ground.
Politics over garbage dumping
This is evident from the fact that while chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Inderbir Singh Bolaria, who is also an MLA from Amritsar south, where the Bhagtanwala garbage dump is located, was protecting the south constituency, while Tarun Chugh was seen protecting the central constituency, where Fatahpur dump wasc located.
Municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal said tenders would be called next week for both the first and second phases of the project. “Efforts are being made to revive the project within the next six months,” he said.