BPCL proposes waste-to-bioCNG plant in Kochi, Kerala govt welcomes project

Waste treatment in Kochi has become a challenge for the Corporation and the state govt after a massive fire at the Brahmapuram plant exposed the ill-planned and shoddily implemented project.

Kochi: The Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has proposed to set up a compressed biogas plant in Kochi as a solution to the city’s ongoing waste management crisis.

The Kerala government has entered into an in-principle agreement with the leading oil and gas company in the public sector regarding the establishment of the facility in the city.

The company presented the proposal to the government at a meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. Industries Minister P Rajeeve and Local Self-Government Minister M B Rajesh attended the meeting. With the ministers giving the green signal for the project, the BPCL will forward the proposal to its top management for approval.

The plan is to set up a plant to make compressed biogas, also known as bioCNG, from the municipal solid waste generated in the city. The treatment of the waste in the city and its suburbs has become a challenge for the Kochi Corporation and the state government after a massive fire at the current facility in Brahmapuram exposed the ill-planned and shoddily implemented project.

Lakhs of tonnes of legacy waste is lying unattended at the Brahmapuram dumping yard for years. The movement of non-biodegradable waste to the yard has also been affected after the fire which lasted for over 10 days in March.

Minister M B Rajesh sounded confident after the meeting with the BPCL officials. “We have entered into an in-principle agreement with BPCL for setting up the plant. The company will be bearing the costs of setting it up. The recurring expenses and the running costs will also be borne by the company. They have informed that the plant can be set up in a year. It will be a crucial step in resolving the waste woes of Kochi,” Rajesh told media after the meeting.

A BPCL official told Onmanorama the meeting was only a first step in exploring the possibility of establishing such a plant in Kochi.

“The government has responded very positively to our proposal. Now, we will be initiating the discussions on its feasibility. We have to get approval from our management. All aspects including cost effectiveness are to be analysed,” the official said.

Similar plants are already functional in cities like Indore and Hyderabad, the BPCL official said. They are run by private players and BPCL is yet to start such a facility.

The proposal is to set up a plant where 200 tonnes of waste can be processed a day. It is assessed that 10 tonnes of bioCNG can be generated from it a day. Thirty per cent of the waste will also be converted into bio-manure.

The BPCL has made the proposal to the state government as part of the central government’s Waste to Energy programme.

“The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing the Waste to Energy Programme under the umbrella of the National Bioenergy Programme. The WTE Programme has a budget outlay of Rs 600 crore for the period FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26. This programme, inter alia, supports setting up of plants for generation of BioCNG from urban, industrial and agricultural waste by providing central financial assistance,” R K Singh, Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy, told the Lok Sabha on December 15, 2022, according to a PIB release.

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