Islamabad - As a major step forward towards setting up a waste-to-energy plant in the capital, the Capital Development Authority showed availability of 50 acres of land for the purpose in Sector I-17, officials said.

The CDA and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) have a plan to install a plant that uses trash as a fuel for generating power, which would also help resolve the issue of garbage disposal in the capital city.

A waste-to-energy plant is a waste management facility that combusts wastes to produce electricity. Several Chinese companies have expressed interest in the project to install a plant that burns around 1,000 tons of garbage to produce 10 megawatts of electricity.

According to Islamabad Electric Supply Company, at present, the capital’s electricity requirement is around 260MWs.

A senior CDA official said that the project was still at preliminary stage and studies were underway. “After completion of paperwork, expression of interest would be called and National Electric Power Regulatory Authority would be contacted to decide about the electricity tariff,” he said.

The official told The Nation that four major collection centres (transfer stations) would be set up at Sangjani, Sector I-9, Kahuta Triangle and Kurri Road for onward transfer of the garbage to the Sector I-17 for its disposal. He said that two acres of land had been allocated for each collection centre. The official, however, said that the project would take time.

A company will be hired for setting up the plant on build, operate and transfer basis and will hand over the facility to the MCI after using it for 30 years, according to the CDA plans. The project will not only help in disposing of garbage, but electricity will also be produced and the MCI will not face any financial burden.

Mayor Islamabad Sheikh Anser Aziz had last year decided to opt for a waste-to-energy project and so far, the civic authority has received presentations from several Chinese companies on the subject. According to the officials, the MCI will soon engage private contractors to collect garbage from all of Islamabad as another company will set up its clean energy power plant.

There is currently no landfill site in the capital and the CDA disposes of around 600 tons of garbage collected from urban areas of the city in a temporary landfill site in sector I-12, where development works are also underway. There is no garbage collection system for the capital’s rural areas, leading most of the residents to throw garbage in nullahs and streams.

The MCI was in a fix on the issue of choosing a new landfill site in the capital after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) objected to garbage dumping in Sector I-12. According to the Directorate of Sanitation of CDA, since foundation of Islamabad, there was no designated landfill site in the capital for disposal of solid waste.

The temporary site in Sector I-12 was allocated by Planning Wing of the CDA in January 2012. As much as 550-600 metric tons of solid waste per day is collected and transported from Islamabad to I-12 for disposal. The directorate had suggested that permanent solution for disposal of solid waste was establishment of ‘compost plant’ for intermediate treatment and ‘construction of engineered sanitary landfill’ for final disposal of waste.

In 2011, the CDA board decided to shift the permanent landfill site to sector I-17 for resolution of the issues of waste containment in Islamabad where now the waste-to-energy plant is being set up. The MCI claims that it collects 700 tonnes of waste from developed sectors of the city daily, which is expected to increase to 1,000 tonnes in the future.