Railways’ first waste-to-energy plant at Jaipur faces GST hurdles

JAIPUR: Indian Railways’ long-awaited and ambitious project to set up a waste-to-energy plant at Jaipur railway station has run into Goods and Services Tax (GST) hurdles, causing a delay in the commissioning of the first such municipal solid waste management centre on the rail network.

Though the process of setting up the plant in Jaipur and then at the New Delhi station began two years back and the successful bidder has brought in the required machinery and technology, the procurement process is yet to be GST-compliant, causing the delay.

While the Jaipur plant would manage five tonnes of solid waste per day, the New Delhi plant would have a capacity of 10 tonnes per day. The process involves segregation, recycling and conversion of waste to energy.

The Railways has provided the land to set up the plants and the project is being executed by the RITES, a public sector unit under the Railways, through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) fund.

Admitting to the delay in commissioning the project, a senior Railway official told IANS: “Since this is the first such project being executed by Railways; there are several issues to be sorted out as a learning experience. Unless procurement is fully GST-compliant, Railways cannot make payment.

“Besides, there was also a delay on the part of the successful bidder in arranging a bank guarantee as the recent banking scam has made the process tougher.”

The project involves segregation of bio-degradable and non-degradable waste. According to an estimate, one tonne of bio-degradable waste produces 100 units of electricity. Energy generated from these plants would be utilized for suitable services at/near railway stations.

However, the official hoped that the GST issue would be sorted out and the first plant is expected to be operational in Japiur shortly and next plant at New Delhi station would closely follow.

Railways have given instructions to all zones and production units to set up solid waste management facilities, including segregation and waste-processing methods such as composting, vermi-composting, bio-methanation, for bio-degradable waste and recycling of recyclable waste.

Besides Jaipur and New Delhi, Railways will be setting up such plants for disposal of municipal solid waste generated at railway stations at four more stations – Patna, Secunderbad, Chennai and Varanasi – in an environment friendly manner, including conversion of waste to energy.