Srinagar: The Srinagar Municipal Corporation is struggling to contract out the installation of its proposed waste-to-electrical energy plant at Achan. Six previous tenders inviting bidders for its installation failed to find contractors, and the seventh tender is now waiting for one.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) proposed such a plant to the SMC two years ago. The aim was to end the crisis of solid waste management in Srinagar and to create a mechanism for waste management at affordable cost.
Sources at the SMC told Kashmir Reader that the seventh tender issued by the SMC, for which the closing date is June 8, may meet the same fate as its predecessors. “Though a few companies have shown interest in the project, there are apprehensions that this new tender might meet the same fate as the earlier six – either no company turned up or there were some disagreements between the department and the companies,” an official at SMC said.
He said that last year three companies had participated in the bidding process, two of which later withdrew. One company – Spaak Bresson Private Limited – was tendered to design, finance, build and operate the project, but due to differences over the power purchase agreement (PPA) between the government and the company, the tender was cancelled.
“The company proposed to charge Rs 8.9 per unit of energy, which was too high for the Power Development Department (PDD). This led to the cancellation of the tender. After that, the SMC advertised tenders five times but received cold response from companies each time,” he said.
The 5-Megawatt (MW) waste-to-energy power plant was supposed to be constructed within a span of 24 months through public–private partnership (PPP). It was to utilise the biomass dumped at the site to generate electricity.
Environmentalists had, however, criticised the project. They raised questions about the project’s environmental and economic feasibility. As per the experts, of the average 400 metric tons of garbage being produced per day in Srinagar, just 15 percent comprised dry burnable material, not enough for running a waste-to-energy plant.
SMC’s solid waste management officer Nazir Ahmad Baba told Kashmir Reader that it was due to the prevailing uncertainty in the Valley last year that made companies stay away from the bidding process.
“Though a few companies were interested in the tendering process, but the uncertainty here forced them to drop the idea,” Baba said.
As the project is planned in PPP mode, Baba said, companies have to bear all infrastructure costs that amount to about Rs 100 crore.
“For such an investment, companies think a hundred times before deciding to participate in the bidding. That is another reason this project has witnessed a cold response. In the latest process, we have some eleven companies participating and we are hopeful we will tender it out,” he said.
About the apprehensions that the project was not environmentally and economically feasible, Baba said that before the proposal was put forth, experts from the NGT examined all the alternatives. “They concluded that setting up a waste-to-energy plant was the most viable solution to waste management in Srinagar,” the SMC officer said.