Meghalaya to produce electricity from garbage

SHILLONG, Dec 23 – The Meghalaya Government has embarked on a hi-tech waste management project to clean up its cities and turn garbage and wastes to productive use as a spin-off.

An Expression of Interest floated by the government recently for such a pilot project here has had as many as seven Indian and International companies participating. The list was later pruned to three. Shillong city has been selected to host the pilot project.

Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, who had visited the plant sites of two such hi-tech waste management plants in Pune, shortlisted by the government, said she intended to inspect the third site in Bangalore early next year.

“What impressed me and my officers the most is the fact that both the plants generate electricity using shredded plastic and other wastes. They also produce organic fertilisers. This could be implemented here on a PPP mode,” Lyngdoh said.

Apart from generating electricity, the plants would also create direct and indirect employment for the youth, she said.

In Pune, she said, at least 80 entrepreneurs had been employed in the project. Besides, rag-pickers have also been engaged in collecting wastes for the plants, the Minister said.

The Shillong Municipal Board has to deal with 170 metric tonnes of household wastes on a daily basis. At present, the dumping site at Marten in the city suffers from a lack of space. It caters to a population of 3,14,610 (2011 census) and has been in operation since the 1930s.

“With these amount of wastes,” Lyngdoh pointed out, “the proposed plant could produce about 16 MW of electricity and the plant runs on its own power.”

Explaining how the system works, Lyngdoh said, “The plant first segregates dry garbage from wet. The wet garbage is collected by the municipality and dumped in the manure bin while the rag-pickers collect the dry garbage. Fertiliser is made from the wet garbage.”

Dry garbage includes plastic bags, papers, cans and boxes and can be collected by rag-pickers and wet garbage includes vegetable wastes, fruits and flowers.

Wet garbage is decomposed using worms EM solutions and eventually converted to manure, she points out. “Interestingly, the whole process does not emit any toxic gas into the atmosphere,” she said.

“Once the government makes up its mind to select one among the three companies, a proposal will be sent to the Government of India for funding,” Lyngdoh explained.

The project cost is estimated at around Rs 70-100 crore and it takes 12-15 months to install machinery, she said.