Five machines purchased by the Delhi government to decompose household waste have been lying unused at Thyagaraj Stadium for the past two years. The machines, priced at Rs 56 lakh, were purchased under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Member of Legislative Assembly Local Area Development (MLALAD) fund, but could not be installed as the New Delhi Municipal Council did not give a no-objection certificate and space to install them, officials said.
The machines, meant to convert organic waste into compost manure, were purchased for the New Delhi assembly constituency in December 2019, a senior Public Works Department official said.
When contacted, NDMC vice-chairman Satish Upadhyay said: “In December 2019, we got a call from an executive engineer in the PWD that they have purchased five compost machines under the MLALAD fund. Following this, our engineer visited Thyagraj Stadium to inspect them, and found that the machines are very small and not viable for NDMC areas. When you are purchasing a machine for NDMC, you should have consulted with the agency before purchasing it. ”
The NDMC official who inspected the machines in 2019 said, “They were very small, with 100 kg capacity. Their functioning is also different from our machines, and the manure produced is not up to the mark. Also, it requires two operators. The NDMC has four machines with 1,000 kg capacity in Raja Bazar, Madhu Limaye Marg, Chanakyapuri, Sangli Mess apartments near Maharashtra Sadan, and Golf Links. The smaller machines are usually purchased for hotels and areas with 15-20 houses.”
When contacted about the status of the machines, Gopal Mohan, advisor to the Chief Minister, said: “Many projects were delayed during the pandemic. The NDMC has given space now and the PWD will start installation work in the next three-four days.”
A PWD official said the last meeting on the issue was held between their department and the NDMC in February. “It was also proposed to hand over the project to the NDMC, so they can install the machines, but they did not show interest. After that, the second Covid wave hit and the project got delayed further.”
“These are high-tech, modern, automatic machines which have the capacity to convert about 100 kg of waste into fine manure after shredding, mixing and heating within four-five days. The machines are equipped with features that prevent smelling and stinking, and also have a provision for manual operations,” said the official.
Officials said the initial plan was to install these machines on the sides of roads where people can throw organic waste and get manure for personal gardening, free of cost. “The PWD had requested for space in areas such as Lodhi Road near the Kendriya Bhandar and Gole Market,” said the PWD official.
A PWD official explained that for MLALAD works, “the plan comes from the MLA while the execution is carried out by PWD”. “So, once the location is identified, we install the machines. It takes 10-15 days to install them but as these were bought two years ago and were lying in the open, we will have to first inspect their functioning. It will take about a month to install them.”
A full-time operator will be appointed to operate each machine, and two dustbins for green waste and plastic will be provided. Currently, a total of 11 composting machines are installed in Delhi by the South and North civic bodies. The SDMC has also installed 71 small pit composters at several locations that produce 1,264 metric tonnes of manure.