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New Delhi: Segregation at source, processing and converting combustible waste into fuel to run power plants are key recommendations of a task force set up to examine the feasibility of projects to convert waste to energy.

The task force was constituted by the Planning Commission after the finance minister announced support for waste-to-energy plants in the 2013-14 budget.

The panel, headed by planning commission member K.Kasturirangan, strongly recommended a public-private partnership (PPP) model for waste-to-energy plants and suggested that up to 40% viability gap funding could be provided to operators of such plants. Its report was submitted on Monday, a plan panel press release said.

“This report is expected to provide appropriate linkages to the new municipal solid waste rules being currently framed by the environment ministry and the national manual for solid waste management being revised by the urban development ministry," it said.

The report said the urban development ministry should come out with a national policy on municipal solid waste, clearly demarcating the role of the central government, states and local authorities.

Currently, only about a fifth of 170,000 tonnes municipal solid waste generated each day is treated. The panel has suggested different waste treatment mechanisms for cities of different size, suggesting that dumping on landfills should be the last resort.

The report also said that municipalities that have a population above 2 million and where large waste-to-energy projects have been recommended should consider adopting the PPP scheme drafted by the planning commission.

The scheme aims at setting up viable waste to energy plants where the municipal solid waste would be processed and output in the form of energy would be generated. The concessionaire would be responsible for setting up the waste-to-energy plant and process the waste by adopting an appropriate technology.

Ravi Agarwal, founder-director at Toxics Link, a Delhi-based not-for-profit, said that the report does not mention regulatory infrastructure for emissions from the plant, which is one of the most important aspects of waste to energy.

“The main environmental concern with these combustion plants was emissions, and the report does not talk about it. Really disappointed with the report. How can they leave out the most important aspect of combustion technology?".

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