The delay in commissioning of Jammu and Kashmir’s first waste-to-energy plant in Srinagar has miffed the National Green Tribunal which has warned the state government of slapping an exemplary cost for taking “unjustifiable” adjournments in the matter.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said the plant at Achan was of great public importance as the city was generating a huge quantity of municipal waste–about 450 metric tonnes per day.
The green panel remarked that if urgent steps were not taken to set up the plant, then the continuous garbage dumping would convert the most beautiful city of the country into a waste dump deposit centre.
It said the deposited waste was polluting the groundwater and causing serious environmental degradation in the area, including the picturesque Dal Lake and its various segments.
“In this matter, the state of Jammu and Kashmir had taken numerous adjournments, in fact years, to finalise the tenders for establishment of waste to energy plant. We are informed that they are awaiting approval of the Cabinet, otherwise it has already been approved by all the agencies and instrumentalities in the state,” it said.
“We make it clear that if the final decision is not taken by the state government before the next date of hearing, it will be liable to pay an exemplary cost for taking unjustifiable adjournment before us in a matter which is of great public importance, as it is the first waste-to-energy plant to be established in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the bench said.
The tribunal said it has been granting adjournments considering that the state would take effective steps, but “we are now realising that for all this time the tribunal had been passing various directions which still remain to be complied with and there is a need for expeditious action on the part of the state”.
The matter is fixed for next hearing on 4th October. The 5 megawatt 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.
The green panel had earlier issued a notice asking why environmental compensation should not be imposed on the state government and the Srinagar Municipal Corporation for allowing trash to scatter.
Lambasting the Jammu and Kashmir government over the municipal waste scattered across Srinagar, the tribunal had warned it would order dumping of all trash in the secretariat complex if its orders were not implemented.
It had also expressed displeasure over the government’s attitude in the matter and noted that tenders were awarded by the state as per its own terms but the entire project remained stalled for a considerable period on the pretext that the rate of power purchase demanded by the bidder was higher.