Waste to energy plant in Vijaywada shuts down

in yet another indictment of incineration technology, the waste-to-energy plant at Vijayawada recently stopped operations. There is now no functional incineration-based waste-to-energy plant in the country. The closure of the 6-mw Shriram Energy Systems Limited plant in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh's Krishna district, raises serious questions about this technology, which is promoted and heavily subsidised by the Union ministry of new and renewable energy (mnre).
Open and shut? Views on when the plant had shut down differ. "I visited the plant on March 3 and found it closed. There were no workers, only a watchman. Most people believe the plant has been shut for the past 60 days,' said Uday Singh Gautam, an advocate and activist from Vijayawada. Local people have different estimates, but they agree it's been shut for two to six months.

While confirming the plant was not operational, Natrajan Gulzar, commissioner of Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (vmc), said the closure was temporary and caused by financial problems. "It will resume operations in a few days,' added C Karthik, deputy executive engineer, vmc.

Shriram's managing director Gopala Krishna Murthy said the plant had shut down due to a boiler problem and would reopen very soon. "The plant is highly irregular in its functioning. It stays closed for long durations,' says R Sobha, additional secretary, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
Faulty technology? The project was commissioned in December 2003. It used to supply 40 million units of electricity a day to AP Transco, Andhra Pradesh's power distributor, at the rate of Rs 3.5 per unit. vmc had leased out about 4 hectares to Shriram for a nominal fee. At that time the land was on the outskirts of the city. Since then many slums have come up in the area and residents complain of dust and noxious smell from open dumping of garbage next to the plant.

The company got loans at a subsidised rate from the centre. Shriram promised to take 225 tonnes/day of municipal solid waste from vmc and process it to produce fuel-grade pellets to power the plant along with 25-30 per cent feedstock