Good garbage

The Refuse Incineration-cum-Power Generation Plant in Delhi is up for grabs. In 1987, the ministry of non-conventional energy sources (MNES) commissioned the plant, which was bought from the Denmark-based Volunt Miljotechnik with the help of a Danish government loan of Rs 20 crore. The plant converted 300 tonnes of garbage into 3.75 MW of power every day. MNES used the plant, located at Timarpur near the Wazirabad waterworks, on an experimental basis till 1990. The plant, however, proved ineffective because of technical reasons -- it required garbage with an average calorific value of 1462 Kcal/kg, while Delhi's garbage provided only 750-800 Kcal/kg.

The garbage plant was trashed and has stood as a monument to waste since 1990, with the Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking (DESU) forking out at least Rs 8 lakh annually for its maintenance. Says M C Upreti, director (urban and industrial wastes group) in MNES, "Garbage of the required quality couldn't be made available on a regular basis. Now the government is trying to make the best use of the assets created."

For now, the solution seems to lie in handing it over to the private sector. To this end, MNES issued an advertisement recently, pleading with the private sector to utilise the plant.