BMC Agrees to Publish EIA Report for Deonar Waste-to-Energy Plant But Won’t Hold Second Public Hearing

BMC Agrees to Publish EIA Report for Deonar Waste-to-Energy Plant But Won’t Hold Second Public Hearing

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) held an online public hearing on Tuesday about its proposal for a 4 MW waste-to-energy plant at the Deonar dumping ground. In this hearing, citizens and experts voiced their concerns about the project while asking for the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to be published on the civic body’s website. They also demanded a second hearing on this issue.

The purpose of this hearing on Tuesday was to obtain the requisite environmental clearances for the civic body and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). As per the 2006 EIA notification, the draft assessment report ought to be made publicly available prior to the public hearing. 

Shweta Bhatt, Director (Conservation) at the Conservation Action Trust questioned, “Central guidelines clearly state that the full EIA report is to be shared publicly, in multiple languages, 30 days before the public hearing. This is a crucial step towards educating people about projected benefits and pitfalls of a certain project, which the BMC has sidestepped. How are stakeholders expected to make decisions based on incomplete information?”

It is learned that although the BMC officials have seemingly agreed to publish the draft EIA report, they have declined the demand for a second hearing on the matter. The BMC has offered the stakeholders four days of time to go through the EIA report and issue their recommendations or objections if any. 

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An executive summary of the EIA report published by the MPCB mentions that the waste-to-energy plant at Deonar will be initiated at a cost of ₹504 crores. Further, officials have also come up with an environmental management plan at a capital cost of ₹8.15 crores and a recurring annual cost of ₹96 lakh. 

This ambitious project will be spread across 12.19 hectares (ha) of the 120-ha landfill in Deonar. Officials say that 33 per cent of the proposed land area (3.19 ha) will become a green belt while the plant itself will only take up 0.84 hectares of space.  When finished, this treatment plant will reportedly have the ability to process up to 800 tons of garbage every day. 

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The dumping ground at Deonar has been in place since 1927 while the civic body has proposed the closing of this facility since at least 2013. Though the idea to establish a waste-to-energy plant was first considered in 2014, it was later scrapped as contractors were unwilling to take it up citing strict regulations in the tender documents.

Minesh Pimple, Deputy Chief Engineer of the Solid Waste Management Department said that the agency has also made provisions for an additional air pollution control plan at a cost of ₹25 crores. Speaking on the objections raised by the citizens about the full draft EIA, he said, “The executive summary covers the project in totality, but since some people are seeking more technical information, the full report is being uploaded on our website. Any inquiries based on that should be directed to us by Monday.”

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