Waste-to-energy is a wonderful concept, but it is a costly affair
Atul Malhotra of Ramky Group shares about the group’s diverse activities, their foray into Municipal Solid Waste to Electricity space and the opportunity and challenges in waste management field in India.
The Ramky Group is a dynamic, large scale organization with a diverse company profile. Could you provide a brief background of the group and its focus areas?
Ramky Group has multiple verticals, which include infrastructure (which is the flagship company), environment, real estate development, chemical and pharmaceuticals development, and also some internal investment banking. Our infrastructure vertical is a listed entity on both BSE and NSE.
Today, we are the largest waste management company in Asia, and this includes – municipal waste, e-waste, medical waste, industrial waste etc. We are managing 3.5 MT of waste annually. Besides India, we also have a large presence in Singapore, Middle East and Africa.
What are your thoughts on the current waste management system & the govt. policies in India - – including the draft biomedical waste suggested by MoEF under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986? What are some core issues that need immediate action?
We are still at a very nascent stage. Now environment has become a very important subject per se. These policies have been drafted only recently. Since 4-5 years, we have been seeing a trend of public-private partnerships in the waste management industry. Hence, it is best to say that we are still in the learning process.
When it comes to medical, industrial, hazardous or e-waste management; public authorities have lately started to realize that it is best left to the experts. We share a camaraderie and support system with the policy makers. It is an interactive and collaborative process where they listen to the needs of the society and proposed solutions and then draft appropriate policies to address the same. So any government decision is always supported by us.
Can you discuss a little about your waste management business model - Collection, Transportation, Treatment, Storage and Disposal of Hazardous Waste?
In municipal waste, the collection starts from door-to-door, followed by transportation, then dumping, then waste management. Now we are also setting up a waste-to-energy plant in Narela-Bawana. We provide end-to-end service in the waste management process.
We manage waste for the entire NDMC, and also some zones of MCD. Then we also have facilities in Mumbai, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Chennai and Madhya Pradesh.
What are some of the waste management and EHS compliance measures/guidelines that Ramky abides by?
We adhere to all the guidelines promulgated by MoEF in exact measure. CPCB audits and guides us from time to time, to ensure that we adhere to the guidelines.
What is the focus of The Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd. (REEL)? Can you highlight some of the recent projects that the Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd. (REEL) is working on?
The focus of REEL, to put simply, is to be the largest waste management company in the world.
We are currently setting up a large waste to energy plant in Delhi, where we are investing more than 300 crores. The project has also been commissioned. We expect the project to be operational by 2013.
What are your thoughts on the waste-to-energy prospects and potential in India?
Waste-to-energy is a wonderful concept, but it is a costly affair. So one ends up seeking government support. Today it will cost about 10-12 crores per MW. But, you also have to understand that land is becoming scarce, and we can’t just have waste lying in a landfill. We have to think of ways to consume the waste in a proper way.
What are some of the current technologies that are being used in India to convert solid Municipal Solid Waste into electricity?
I don’t see any successful projects in India right now. We are bringing in technologies from out of India. But, we foresee future projects to be immensely successful.
Can you provide insight into plant characteristics (such as size, cost, technical aspects of the plant and expected electricity generation) of the new Narela-Bawana waste-to-energy project that MCD has commissioned Ramky to build by 2014?
As of today we are handling 1200 tonnes of waste per day, which will go up to 2000 tonnes per day. We want to produce about 25MW of electricity through the Narela-Bawana plant. The plant is being built over 100 acres of land and employs more than 200 people directly and indirectly. The entire project will cost about INR 500 crores.
What is your opinion on the future of waste management in India? – in terms of R&D and other initiatives?
Waste is going to increase with population. When you have more raw materials available, unlike other sources of energy; we have to be innovative about how we can manage this source in the best way possible. Waste management industry, in my opinion is the most noble service industry to be in. However, we can’t share the R&D initiatives that we are engaged in right now.
This interview has been conducted by Roselin Dey from the Sustainability Outlook Team.