The NITI Aayog has suggested setting up an authority which will take up installation of ‘waste to energy’ plants in public-private partnership (PPP) mode to clean up municipal solid waste, which, it said, has become a “serious threat” to public health. Noting that rapidly rising prosperity has resulted in generation of vast volumes of solid waste in the cities, the Aayog underlined that cities have been “slow to develop effective ways” to dispose municipal waste and called for accelerated action to combat the problem. “The mountains of waste, which can now be seen in nearly all cities, have become a serious public health threat,” it said.
The Aayog made the recommendations in its ‘Three Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20’, released by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently. “To speed up the process of cleaning up municipal solid waste, it may be worth exploring the possibility of an authority at the Centre to spread the use of ‘waste to energy’ plants,” it said.
Such an authority can be called ‘Waste to Energy Corporation of India (WECI)’ and placed under the housing and urban affairs ministry, the Aayog said. “Just as the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has been instrumental in developing high-quality national highways through Public Private Partnership (PPP) across the country, the WECI may set up world class waste to energy plants through PPP mode across the country,” it said.
The authority can play a “key role in fast-tracking coverage” of waste to energy plants across 100 smart cities by 2019, the Aayog said, As per the 2011 census, 377 million people living in 7,935 urban centres generate 1,70,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste daily. Urban local bodies spend about Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per tonne on solid waste management. Out of this, about 60-70 per cent is spent on the collection of waste and 20-30 per cent on transportation but almost nothing on its treatment and disposal. The NITI Aayog said ‘Waste to Energy’ is the best option to tackle the problem.