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The construction of the controversial waste-to-energy (WTE) plant at Brahmapuram would begin by the end of May despite the project not clearing crucial hurdles including the environmental clearance from pollution control board (PCB) and fixation of tariff for purchase of powering power.
The Kochi corporation has signed an agreement with GJ Eco Power Pvt Ltd for construction and operation of the WTE plant. According to sources with the civic body , they are planning to lay the foundation stone of the plant by May 30. “The plan is to start the work immediately. Once it begins, agencies like PCB will be under pressure to clear the project,“ a source with the corporation said.
Health standing committee chairperson V K Minimol confirmed that the foundation stone would be laid by the end of the month. “We can't keep the project delayed any more. The state government also has expedited measures to start the project,“ she said. The plan is to complete the construction and commission the project by June 2018.
The greens are of the opinion that the project can be started only after getting environmental clearance. “The project is coming up on the banks of Kadambrayar, which caters to the drinking water needs of thousands including professionals working in Infopark and Cochin Special Economic zone. The model does not have a proven track record. It is not viable project,“ said S Sitaraman, environmentalist.
The opposition councillors have also raised objections against the project. “The project is not feasible. The damages to environment caused by the project are yet to be assessed.Moreover, the project would be a burden for the corporation as well as the state government,“ said K J Antony , opposition leader, Kochi corporation. If the project is viable, then the plant promoters could recover the cost by selling electricity. “Why should the corporation shoulder the burden,“ Antony asked. “If there is a successful model for the project it should be presented at the council meeting and the public also should be allowed to scrutinise it,“ he said.
The Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission is yet to fix the rate at which the KSEB would buy power from the plant. Earlier, while considering the corporation's application for fixing the tariff, the regulatory commission had raised queries on the financial viability of the project. The corporation authorities couldn't provide satisfactory reply to the regulatory commission so far. As per the agreement between the civic body and the private firm, the cost of generating electricity will be around Rs 15 per unit. The average rate at which KSEB purchases electricity is around Rs 4. This means that the corporation and the state government will have to give the funds for filling the gap between cost of electricity production and rate at which KSEB would be purchasing power.
As per the agreement, GJ Nature Care and Energy Pvt Ltd should set up the 300 tonne capacity plant at a cost of Rs 295 crore. The corporation should provide 300 tonnes of garbage to the private firm every day . If the local body fails to supply 300 tonnes of waste, corporation will have to pay compensation to the company .
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