BBMP burdened with tonnes of waste-derived fuel

Cement companies say transporting material to their plants 500 km away will be uneconomical

BBMP burdened with tonnes of waste-derived fuel

More than 18 lakh tonnes of highly combustible Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) bales are lying at seven waste processing units as the cement companies have backtracked on their promise to lift it free of cost.

RDF is a fuel produced from various types of wastes like municipal solid waste, industrial waste or commercial waste.

A month ago, cement companies in Kalaburagi and neighbouring districts had promised to lift RDF to their units to fuel their kilns as a part of the corporate social responsibility. The meeting was facilitated by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and attended by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials.

The companies, however, found the transport cost too steep as they were located between 500 km and 800 km from Bengaluru.

Speaking to DH, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said: “We are ready to give RDF to cement factories free of cost but they are unwilling to take it saying it is not economical for them.”

He added that Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Rules make it mandatory for steel and cement plants within 100 km to use RDF.

“To our misfortune, none of these units is located within 100 km,” said Prasad. The commissioner said he would have another meeting with KSPCB to clear the stock.

When contacted, KSPCB chairperson Lakshman said two companies – ACC and Ultratech – have agreed to lift RDF. ``Already six lakh tonnes of RDF has been dispatched. The remaining will be cleared shortly," he said.

Fire accidents

The huge pile-up of bales has increased the risk of fires at waste processing units, especially in the coming summer.

Joint Commissioner of BBMP (SWM) Sarfaraz Khan said RDF bales are stored in warehouses at processing units. ``We cannot keep them outdoors due to possibility of rain. In summer, managing these bales becomes more difficult since toxic gases from RDF could lead to fires."

On October 3, 2016, a fire broke out at Kannahalli waste processing unit off Magadi Road burning huge quantity of RDF bales.

The village was affected by toxic smoke triggering public outrage. Already, people living in the surrounding areas were protesting against the foul smell from the Kannahalli and Seegehalli waste processing units. The incident gave a fresh ammo to the protesters.

Sources in the BBMP said recently, smoke at Subbarayanapalya and Chikkanagamangala waste processing units sent Palike officials into a tizzy. The situation was brought under control.

Flip side of plastic ban

Lack of plastic content in the waste has compounded the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s problems as cement industries are reluctant to use the bales saying they do not meet their standards. KSPCB chairperson Lakshman said plastic is a key component in RDF, without which these bales are of no use. Palike sources said that ever since a ban was imposed on disposable plastic, the amount of plastic in the bales has reduced substantially. From April 2015 to December 2016, the Palike carried out raids, seized 53,705 kg of plastic and imposed a penalty of Rs 2.75 crore on traders.

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