Tura fuel plant could turn the tide on ‘waste’ issue

TURA, May 17: The accumulated trash problems that haunt the state’s fledgling towns could be a thing of the past if the Tura pilot project takes off.
The project, which is a joint venture between India and South Korea’s Chamhana GW, is the first such project in the country and was inaugurated on Tuesday at Rongkon Songgittal village in Tura city. The factory was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, in the presence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Jae-Bok Chang.
The plant was installed near the landfill of the city of Tura for the dumping of waste.
The project was considered in March 2019 with the project’s technical advisor, Naba Bhattacharjee, explaining what happened behind the scenes to bring the project to fruition.
“The problem of waste management is huge and requires original thinking. The Republic of Korea has been at the forefront of solid waste management with Chamhana GW of Korea being among the leaders. Bhattacharjee explained.
He added that he approached the CM with the idea that the latter was coming and gave the green light. However, he had one condition: that the project cost nothing to the State. The CM had requested that the project be resumed directly with the company Chamhana GW as a pilot project in PPP mode to assess the effectiveness of the technology before deciding to set up larger-capacity factories in Shillong and elsewhere.
Chamhana agreed to the terms on the condition that they obtain absolute rights to market the treated fuel, in order to recoup their capital investment within the next 10 to 12 years. Tests have shown that the combustion capacity of the treated waste is close to 3,500 Kcal, just below the average quality coals of the main mines of the country – an asset that the company intends to use to advance the process in other cities.
The pilot project was then finalized between Chamhana and the Tura Municipal Board (TMB), with Tura being chosen as it was ideal in terms of the amount of waste.
“Tura was ideal because it has almost the same amount of waste that can be processed daily by a small capacity plant. Shillong had too much while Jowai had less. Sorted waste can be treated. Even PET bottles can be processed after crushing. The advantage of the project is that plastic waste can be almost eliminated through the process,” the technical advisor added.
The project, which was to start in 2020, was delayed due to COVID-19.
The pilot project, envisioned as a working model demonstration project (proof of concept), will manage waste collected by TMB up to 35 metric tons (MT) per day. The capacity will be increased after viability studies and will also be introduced to other cities in Meghalaya depending on the success of the pilot project.
The converted waste will produce approximately 10 to 15 tonnes of fuel according to initial estimates.
“It could be a game-changer for waste management in the state and the rest of the country,” Naba added.
Speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration, Ambassador Chang said the project was a win-win situation for both countries.
“I came to witness this win-win project with technology from South Korea and Meghalaya State. As the CM said, this is just the beginning and we will see more such innovations in waste management in the coming future which will bring prosperity to both countries. We will strive to come up with more mutually beneficial projects in the future,” Ambassador Chang said.
The ambassador was accompanied by his wife as well as a contingent of Chamhana GW representatives.
The committee requests the relocation of the landfill site
As the chief minister was busy inaugurating the Chamhana GW derivative fuel plant pilot project at the Rongkhon Songgital landfill site in Tura on Tuesday, the Rongkhon Songgital Youth Environment Committee demanded the moving the site elsewhere.
In its memorandum sent to the CM on the same day, the committee accused the TMB of not following the instructions of the Meghalaya High Court and continuing to dump waste in a haphazard manner, which resulted in the dumping of garbage in the cemetery below.
“The inhabitants of the region have given enough time to TMB to develop a new landfill site. We cannot tolerate such desecration of graves and hope immediate action will be taken on this,” the committee said.
Alleging that the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 and the Environmental Protection and Municipal Solid Waste Abolition (Management and Handling) Act were breached by TMB, the committee also sought action against it.