Biomedical waste incineration plant to shift out of Mumbai by Feb 2022
The plant operators said they were devastated by the decision as they now have to bear a cost of ₹50 crore for resetting the entire facility at Khalapur.
The Maharashtra environment department has directed the city’s only biomedical waste treatment facility to commence the shifting process out of Mumbai by December 2021 and complete it by February 2022 to improve air quality in the eastern suburbs.
Residents from Govandi, Mankhurd, Deonar and surrounding areas have filed repeated complaints against SMS Envoclean Pvt Ltd, appointed by the civic body to deal with Mumbai’s Covid-19 and associated biomedical waste from June onwards, about toxic air and black smoke emitted after incinerating personal protective equipment (PEE) kits, from the treatment facility, allegedly leading to health ailments in the area.
State environment minister Aaditya Thackeray had directed the treatment facility to be shifted out within a year, and asked the facility to expedite the process of identifying an alternate site for their operations within a month.
On Wednesday, Thackeray held a meeting with the facility operators, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, and various local leaders.
“It was finalised that there would be no incineration or associated emission within Mumbai anymore and for this, a timeline has been charted out, that by December 2021, the plant will be moved out of the city,” said Thackeray.
The plant operators had identified a 3-acre plot at an uninhabited location around 70 km from Mumbai at Khalapur in Raigad district.
“The state issued consent to establish the new plant on Wednesday while a no-objection certificate was issued by BMC to move the plant out of Mumbai,” said Thackeray, adding, “The current space at Govandi, however, would continue to be used for only holding the city’s waste before being transported to the new site. However, incineration followed by emission and other waste treatment procedures will be carried out away from the city.”
SMS plant operators said they were devastated by the decision. “We do not have any other option. We now have to bear a cost of ₹50 crore for setting up the entire facility at Khalapur and all efforts made in Mumbai will be wasted,” said Amit Nilawar, director, SMS Envoclean.
Nilawar added that with a drop in Covid-19 cases, the quantity of Covid-19 and other biomedical waste had reduced by 47% since September-October.
“We are now receiving 17 to 18 tons per day against 32 tons till October first week. However, we are sending 6-7 tons to another unit in Taloja - Mumbai Waste Management Ltd for treatment,” he said.
A local resident from Govandi, requesting anonymity, said citizens welcomed the decision but hoped that the shifting out process could be expedited. “Breathing issues continue especially for senior citizens and children,” the resident said.
Mahul firms comply with all directions under state’s pollution abatement plan: Aaditya Thackeray
Firms at the city’s polluted Mahul area have complied with most commitments made for pollution abatement as directed by the environment department, Thackeray said after a meeting with state bodies and the firms on Wednesday.
“It is a huge relief that all industries in the Mahul area have complied with almost all directives from the environment department. A few still remain but will be completed soon. Now, the National Green Tribunal appointed committee will be looking into other details of pollution abatement as directed by the court,” said Thackeray.
Firms at Mahul-Trombay area are said to be responsible for high air pollution for the past two years posing a health risk for local residents. Activities such as logistic services, storing oil, gas and chemical items, and oil companies releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during loading, storage and unloading of hazardous chemicals, have led to high air pollution.
Industrial firms, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), Aegis Logistics Ltd (ALL), and SeaLord Containers Limited (SLCL, a subsidiary of ALL), had all agreed to a series of measures proposed by the state environment department during a meeting in February, when an action plan was proposed.
Some of these measures included – nitrogen blanketing (a method of applying nitrogen gas to the vapour space or top layer of a container carrying chemicals to control its composition and reduce oxygen access to curb emission), bottom-filling of trucks to ensure liquid does not spill out, supplying a parking area to avoid congestion of vehicles, developing a green belt, and traffic permissions to use the eastern freeway during non-peak hours for smoother movement and curb spillage.
According to Thackeray, ALL has agreed to relocate their laboratory which was one of the concerns for increase in air pollution. “We are working with the traffic department to complete the process of bottom-filling of trucks to ensure zero volatile liquid splashing on roads. Secondly, for the development of the green belt, BMC has been tasked with planting 30,000 saplings in this area by May, and have been directed to procure saplings from their nurseries,” said Thackeray.