To boost waste-to-energy plants, Environment ministry relaxes norms. The Union environment and forests ministry has stated that green clearance is not required for activities such as segregation, composting, refuse-derived fuel (RFD) making. The setting up of waste-to-energy plants up to 15 megawatt capacity at existing landfill sites is also included in list.
By at least six months, this is likely to reduce the time taken for setting up of such plants. To manage the mountains of solid waste piled up in and around urban areas, composting, waste to-energy and RFD making are crucial. This is in a short time considering a little over two years is left to achieve complete sanitation by October 2019. Under the Swachh Bharat initiative, setting up of these facilities need to be expedited by State governments and municipal bodies.
The environment ministry informed the housing and urban affairs ministry that the provision of EIA notification, 2006 is not attracted in the above cases.
Annually, municipal waste of about 68.8 million tonnes is generated and a little over 20% is treated in urban areas in India. According to government data, against the potential to generate 18 lakh tonnes, about five lakh tonnes of compost is prepared from waste. Similarly, from waste against the potential to generate 511 mega watt annually only 88.4 mega watt electricity s generated.
However, the environment ministry said prior environmental clearance will be required by any new municipal solid waste disposal site or landfill site. The ministry said that if the activities of incineration, RFD making and waste-to-energy are proposed along with the new site of solid waste disposal/landfill, it is advisable to obtain an integrated prior environmental clearance.
The ministry clarified these, in response to a request from urban affairs ministry to revisit the process of prior environmental clearance for solid waste management treatment and processing facilities.
The green ministry said it was noticed that it was a contentious issue locating a landfill site or municipal solid waste disposal site. This was because of a tendency to locate them far from habitation, but near forests, rivers, ponds, wetlands and low lying areas. These areas are ecologically sensitive and required prior environmental management.
It further said that since from environment point of view forests, rivers, ponds, wetlands and low lying areas are critical. From the requirement of prior environmental clearance it may not be appropriate to exempt this activity of municipal solid waste disposal site or landfill site.
News source: goo.gl/hypdoL
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