Cloud over Rs 600-cr Dhapa power project

The Times of India 2009-07-30, Kolkata

Company Blames Govt & KMC for Going Slow On Plan; Civic Body Says Project Still At Half-Way Stage Kolkata: An American renewable energy firm that had shown interest in generating power from waste at Dhapa said on Wednesday that it may dump the Rs 600-crore project unless it is provided land by October.

Astonfield Renewable Resources - the Indian unit of US-based infrastructure major Astonfield Management has alleged that a slow-moving Kolkata Municipal Corporation and an unresponsive state government has compelled it to rethink plans of setting-up the 54 MW waste-to-energy power plant.

However, the threat failed to have the desired impact on the KMC, which said that there has been no formal agreement signed between the two.

"Over the last two years we have met the authorities at least 50 times but despite assurances, the government or the KMC is reluctant to walk the talk. We have now given them a deadline till October to give us the land and the required clearance. Otherwise we will pull out and go elsewhere," the firm's co-chairman Sourabh Sen said.

The company had mooted plans to generate electricity from 3,269 tonne solid municipal waste that Kolkata generates daily by establishing an eco-friendly power plant on 30 acre within the 186 hectare Dbapa dumpyard. It had also proposed to undertake the waste collection for the entire city, but the idea had been shot down by the authorities, Sen said.

The plant was to have two levels of automated filtration and one level of manual filtration of waste. Astonfield has roped in global waste management expert Veolia for the Dbapa project. Veolia operates the waste management system in cities such as London, Singapore and Beijing.

"The authorities are so weak that they can't take a call and have asked US to approach the Opposition to procure the land. So far, we have got positive signals for the Opposition and I will be meeting Mamata Banerjee next weekend to discuss the situation. We want to lease the land for 20-30 years," Sen said.

On its part, KMC indicated that the allegations were base.less as the talks bad not moved beyond the proposal stage.

"Astonfield had only given proposals but has not signed an MoU. Also, there hasn't been any feasibility study on this project. Previous studies have shown that the waste might not be suitable for power generation. We are still discussing the project and are at the half-way stage in terms of the decision-making process," a senior KMC official said.

Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya declined to comment on the issue over telephone when contacted.