HC raps PMC for failed waste processing deal

Addressing PIL that alleges civic body has paid Rochem for 6 yrs despite it not honouring a contract, court orders affidavit in 2 weeks detailing all solid waste mgmt projects in city
On the heels of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Pune resident last month -alleg ing that the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been paying a contracted private company for zero work done to allay the city’s waste management issues for six years -the Bombay High Court (HC) on Monday rapped the civic body. Now, PMC has been told to file an affidavit within two weeks, elaborating on the status of all its solid waste management projects. Details are also to include an explanation of systems used to dispose of garbage generated from housing societies, hotels, restaurants and food manufacturing units.The bench of justices V M Kanade and Swapna Joshi also directed the Mumbai and other municipal corporations to submit similar details within the same period of time.

In November 2010, PMC had entered into a concession agreement with Rochem Separation Systems for a waste-to-green energy project, to dispose of garbage and generate electricity.However, it is alleged that while the company has not done so for many years, it has still received bill amounts from PMC. Neither is the project running at full capacity, nor is it generating any electricity. In fact, hazardous gases are being emitted from the plant, causing a serious health hazard to citizens of Hadapsar.

Petitioners Harshavardhan Madhu sudan Modak and Vinod Patil sought action with respect to the failure of PMC in effectively disposing of solid waste, also addressing the resultant hazardous air and water pollution generated by Rochem. The petition says PMC established a conclusive disposal plan with modern technology on a build­operate­transfer (BOT) basis, coupled with electricity generation of 700 Mtday on mixed municipal solid waste. Rochem was also obliged to maintain the project, but failed. Moreover, it violated various legal provisions, causing financial losses to PMC, the petition says.

Advocate Rupesh Lanjekar, representing the petitioners, alleged, “Rochem failed to generate electricity or meet targets. Despite consistent defaulting, PMC initiated no action against the company, resulting in grave injustice, damages and loss to the citizens of Pune. Yet, monthly bills were regularly paid.“

It is further claimed that since the company failed to run at full capacity, it led to the piling up of garbage and rejected material being dumped in the open in the plant’s backyard, close to residential areas. Refuted Suresh Jagtap, joint commissioner in-charge of PMC’s solid waste department, who was at Monday’s hearing, “We have been asked to file an affidavit about efforts taken. It is not true that we are paying the company without any processing done on solid waste. We are paying them partially, as per our agreement, since only 250mt day of electricity is being processed. As the project is incomplete and has generated no electricity, we have also imposed fines against the company on regular occasions.“

Dhananjay Kalaskar, vice-president of Rochem Green Energy Pvt Ltd, admitted, “The project is incomplete, so we cannot work at full capacity, as per the agreement with PMC. We have not generated the promised electricity due to technical issues.“ He clarified that they are only getting paid for whatever amount of solid waste has been processed per day, adding, “We getting paid only after the deduction of the non-performance amount, so the petition’s claim that we are getting paid in full for no work is false. We cannot generate electricity because of non-uniformity in garbage, which adversely affects our machinery engines. We have also been paying penalties imposed by PMC as per the agreement.“

Source : Mirror