Pune, 2nd January 2024: The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has intensified efforts to relocate the controversial garbage project on Sus Road in Baner following escalating demands for its removal. Amid political tensions surrounding the project, PMC has decided to abandon the current site, initiating a search for a new location. This decision has stirred concerns as millions of rupees invested in the project could potentially go to waste.
Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar had mandated the closure of the garbage project on Sus Road by December 31. However, PMC’s lack of action led to a confrontation between former MLA Medha Kulkarni and officials. Despite assurances of finding a resolution, PMC has now opted to scrap the project, with plans to establish it in a new location within the next four months.
In 2016, PMC initiated a waste treatment plant by Noble Exchange Company on Sus Road, primarily handling wet waste from city hotels and some household waste. The project faced opposition from residents who filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in October 2020. The Supreme Court of India ruled in favour of the citizens, ordering the project’s closure within two months. However, PMC delayed the relocation citing difficulties in securing a new site.
The decision to abandon the project comes amid increasing political heat and public discontent. According to rule 67.3 of PMC, funds must be allocated for the relocation process.
The current project, with a capacity of 200 tonnes and processing 120 to 150 tonnes of waste, is conveniently located near the city, facilitating waste processing. The challenge now lies in finding a suitable location in rural areas without compromising on development works.
The existing waste plant, situated on reserved space, faces challenges due to urban development and increased construction around it. The PMC will need to address future concerns regarding the construction of projects on reserved land and the impact on urban settlements.
The relocation decision has not been immune to political controversy, with local citizens protesting and speculations arising about the project being sacrificed for political credit. Some politicians argue that the heightened political climate is a strategy to claim credit for the decision.
PMC’s Additional Commissioner, Dr Kunal Khemnar, confirmed the decision to relocate the garbage project to Sus Road. The current project is set to close within a month, and the new location is expected to be operational in the last week of March or April.