Indian cities generate over 70 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) every year. Ten years ago this number was 40 million tons and in the next ten years it is expected to increase to 140 million tons. The amount of waste generated is closely correlated with the level of affluence of a country and rapid urbanization in India has further accentuated this trend. 

The six large metros (population exceeding 5 million) generate the maximum absolute amount as well as highest per capita waste. Overall, they account for about 25% i.e. about 17.5 million tons of waste a year. A bigger set of 53 cities (population exceeding 1 million) generate another half while 313 smaller towns together generate less than a quarter. In per capita terms, six large metros generate over 600gm/day, which is significantly higher than the national average of about 450gm/day. Other Class 1 cities (population less than 5 million) generate between 430gm/day-490gm/day. 

Picture-1: Ghazipur Landfill (originally started in 1984)

Photograph Credit: Oinam Anand, The Indian Express

India is in early stage of adopting modern waste management methodologies and technologies. A large proportion of the waste remains uncollected and a significant proportion of collected waste is disposed in open landfills. Overall estimates indicate that large cities collect between 70%-90%, while smaller cities manage to collect about half of the total waste generated. At an aggregate level, 91% of the waste collected is landfilled in open dumps. 

Due to their population and higher per capita waste generation, cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have large open landfills which present significant environmental, health and social challenges and risks. A Ministry of Finance position paper in 2009 predicted that if business as usual scenario prevailed, 1400 sq-km of land (equivalent of Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad put together or size of Delhi) will be required by 2047 to landfill the waste. Three Indian landfills presented in Table-1 below feature amongst the world’s 50 largest landfills. 
Table-1: India’s largest landfills

Ghazipur Delhi

Deonar Mumbai

Mandur Bangalore

Size (ha)




Waste     in      Place
(Million Tonnee)




Distance to nearest settlement (km)




Population within 10km radius




Source: Waste Atlas: The Worlds’s Biggest Dumpsites, 2014

Given the pace of urbanization and scarcity of land, areas surrounding landfills are  often densely populated. For example, over 3.0 million people live in Delhi with Ghazipur landfill as their backyard. Likewise in Mumbai, over 5.0 million people are within half a kilometer of the Deonar landfill. A thriving informal sector exists working in hazardous conditions without basic safety equipment or understanding of the risks involved. 

These landfills are growing in size and some of them such as Deonar in Mumbai (over 80 years old) and Ghazipur in Delhi (over 30 years old) reached their maximum permissible limits several years ago. Lack of alternative sites and infrastructure to recycle waste has resulted in an ever increasing waste being brought to these sites, thereby creating significant environmental and health hazards. 

Picture-2: NASA Imagery of Deonar Fire, January 2016

Photograph Credit: Dr Ritesh Gautam, IIT Mumbai

Several times during this year, fire has broken out in the Deonar landfill enveloping the city in a thick smog leading to worsening of air quality to “Very Poor” level. Several residents complained of respiratory ailments and schools had to be shut down due to the smog. In Bangalore, known for its lakes, thousands of dead fish surfaced on the shore of Ulsoor lake, a popular boating and recreation site. The current events mark a series of environmental accidents caused by inadequate and improper waste management in cities over the last decade. 

Since the municipal infrastructure and systems have failed to keep pace, a sharp contrast is created between citizens’ expectation of improved quality of life vis-àvis available resources to provide desired services. Social unrest is a potential outcome as citizens’ protest and try to take things in their own hands. In Kerala, for example, people took to and village president on hunger strike in 2012 against inadequate and improper waste management. 

Our analysis reveals that India currently ranks as the fourth largest generator of waste in the world. In another ten years, i.e. by 2025, it will overtake Brazil and become the third largest waste producer after China and United States. Chart -1 below, based on data contained in the World Bank report, also reveals that the growth rate of waste generation in India is the highest amongst the five big waste generating countries. 

Chart-1: International Comparison of Waste Generation

Given the size of India’s population and pace of urbanization, waste management will be one of the biggest challenges for the Indian cities. The Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission (discussed later), launched by the Prime Minister is hence timely and commendable. We believe that given the emphasis of the Government on infrastructure and some of the recent regulatory changes detailed later, it is likely that waste management challenge will be a significant opportunity for organizations with domain expertise and project management skills. 


India has managed to create a strong legal and regulatory provisions to deal with issues related to waste management. Article 243 (W) of the Indian Constitution specifies the powers, authority and responsibility of the municipalities to carry out functions that are relevant to solid waste management and related matters. Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), which acts as a nodal body for all environmental issues is mandated to ensure that environmental compliance including location of industrial sites and landfills for hazardous wastes, use of appropriate technologies and research, development and awareness. The parent legislation the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986 providing a guiding framework incorporating principles of “sustainable development”, “precaution” and “polluter pays” as key pillars. 

The National Environmental Policy, 2006 lays emphasis on collection and recycling of wastes and measures for environmentally safe disposal of residues. Further, solid waste is equated with “public nuisance” and is punishable under the Indian Penal Code 1860, Chapter XIV dealing with offences affecting public health, safety, convenience, decency and morals. 

There is also a history of environmental law jurisprudence to be found in Supreme
Court judgements starting mid 1990s based on various Public Interest Litigations. A High Powered Committee formed under Mr. Asim Burman as a result of Supreme Court direction gave its report in March 1999 and subsequent judgement led to The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling), Rules 2000. These rules laid down the responsibility of the municipal bodies, state government and Pollution Control Boards.  Further, they detailed the criteria, process and timebound plan for various aspects related to municipal solid waste management. 

In addition to the MSW, 2000 rules, there are several other rules relating to various types of wastes, which are mentioned in Table-2 below.

Table-2: Key Regulations related to Waste Management




Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998 and subsequent amendments.


The Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001 and subsequent amendments.


E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 and subsequent amendments.


Fly Ash Utilization Notification, 1999 and subsequent amendments.


The Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 and subsequent amendments.


The Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules, 2008 and subsequent amendments.

It has been observed that the key challenge has been implementation of rules because of lack of institutional capacity in the municipal bodies and pollution control boards. A ruling by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) (No 16 of 2013) is instructive in case of Fly Ash Utilization Notification. In a dispute between the Nasik Fly Ash Bricks Association and Maharashtra Power Generation Company, the NGT found that the concerned agencies were not able to perform required regulatory functions delegated to them. Since fly ash is a waste generated by few large production facilities, it should be relatively easier to regulate. These challenges get further accentuated when dealing with larger number of small and dispersed waste generators such as in case of bio-medical and plastic waste.

The Swachh Bharat Mission has rightly identified institutional capacity of municipalities and urban local bodies as one of the key challenges. It is expected that the states will take advantage of this opportunity and allocate desired attention and resources for reforming their local bodies. In addition, the Mission also highlights role of public-private partnerships to bring the capital, latest technologies and best practices in the sector. 

The Global Waste Management Outlook (GMWO) 2015, prepared by United Nations Environment Programme and International Solid Waste Association indicates that about 2.0 billion ton of municipal solid waste was generated in 2010 globally. GMWO also estimates that globally, about 2.0 billion people lack access to regular waste collection. The economic cost of inaction to the society (environmental damage, health cost, productivity loss flood damage among others) is estimated to be 5-10 greater than the financial costs of proper waste management. 
The Global Waste Management Goals (presented in Table-3 below) as articulated in the GWMO present an ambitious roadmap which highlights SWM as a global challenge and calls for a political priority to deal with it. There is a need for concerted international action and developed and developing countries to work together to achieve real and sustainable progress. Data collection and research have been identified as areas of particular interest and importance to enable evidence based policy and action. 

Table-3: Global Waste Management Goals

Goal 1

To ensure, by 2020, access for all to adequate, safe and affordable solid waste collection services

Goal 2

To stop uncontrolled dumping and open burning of waste

Goal 3

To achieve sustainable and environmentally sound management of all wastes, particularly hazardous waste

Goal 4

Ensuring a sustainable reduction in waste generation by 2030 through prevention and the 3 Rs.

Goal 5

Cutting by a half, per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level

Source: Global Waste Management Outlook, 2015

In context of Global Waste Management Goals, work of Guerrero, Maas and Hogland at the Eindhoven University of Technology in Netherlands is particularly enlightening. Based on study of 30 urban areas spread over 22 countries, they analyzed various factors in SWM value chain to identify the most important determinants. Their research adapted the Integrated Sustainable Waste Management Model to investigate stakeholders’ actions and behavior from technical, socio-cultural, legal, institutional and economic linkages perspective.  
Picture-3: Integrated Sustainable Waste Management Model 

Picture Credit: L A Guerrero, G Maas and W Hogland, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands
They concluded that SWM is a multi-dimensional issue and citizens need to be coresponsible and part of the solution. Based on Principle Component Analysis (PCA), they identified key determinants leading to successful waste management systems in cities. These are summarized in table-4 below. 
Table-4: Most Important Determinants (Principle Component Analysis)

Generation and Separation

Collection, Transfer and Transport

Citizen’s awareness on impacts of Waste Management systems

Support from the Central Government, Interest of Municipal leaders and Coordination between service providers

Decision Makers Knowledge of latest technologies and options

Infrastructure including quality of roads, availability of equipment and appropriate collection time

Availability of equipment and machinery for waste segregation


Source: L A Guerrero, G Maas and W Hogland, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

In addition to the above factors, GWMO also identifies financial sustainability as a key area for policy focus and action. At a social level, sustainable waste management is socially and economically desirable with a positive rate of return. It is thus considered a merit good in economic terms i.e. the law requires it to be provide irrespective of willingness and ability to pay. It is also difficult to exclude non-payers even if some charges are levied as it prone to “free-rider” behavior. 

Hence, waste management activities are a net financial cost to the society. Applying an economic lens brings out that these are sound investments that can be justified. Cost of landfilling or open burning of waste in terms of their environmental and health implications are likely to significantly exceed the financial cost of sound waste management. However, financial returns are low and it is hence challenging to attract the private sector or to implement the best technological options. 

Thus, raising finance for investments in modern waste management requires policy innovation and depending on context, a direct financial support. Some of the interesting examples and solutions are presented in the next two sections. 

Given that some of the other large and developed countries face similar SWM challenges, it is relevant to look at their experience and learn from it.

The global trend in SWM is a shift from collection and disposal dominated hierarchy to recycling and energy recovery as depicted in picture below.  There are three reasons for this shift. First, land is an increasingly scarce resource. Second, landfilling creates environmental and health hazards and shifts responsibility to future generations. The scientific evidence is unequivocal that  problem multiplies over a period of time as landfills degrade soil, water and lead to air pollution via greenhouse gas emissions as well particulate matter. Finally, increasing energy demand, high prices and significant improvements in technology have made Waste to Energy (WTE) projects attractive.
Picture-4: Shift from Landfilling towards WTE and Recycling 

Picture Credit: A Case for Solid Waste Management, South African Cities Network, August 2014.

As a result of this shift, WTE is increasingly the preferred choice for managing post-recycling wastes in many European countries, Japan, US and more recently in China and South Korea. In a 2009 study, US Environmental Protection Agency and North Carolina University scientist strongly favoured WTE plants over landfills as the most environment friendly solution for urban waste that cannot be recycled. WTE offers several advantages including destruction of pathogens, reduction in volume, environmental protection and mineralization and immobilization of hazardous substances.  The evolution in technology has enabled its broad appeal as filters are now able to eliminate most of the pollutants such as dioxins, mercury and furans.

Many European countries have successfully managed to reach a stage of zero waste i.e. the entire waste being managed through a combination of recycling and energy generation. Germany, Belgium and Netherlands are good examples. 

Sweden is widely considered as a WTE success story. It has a long history of harnessing energy from the waste with first such plant being commissioned in 1904. From 1999 to 2010, WTE’s share in waste treatment increased from 39% to 49%. In 2009, close to 5.0 million tonnes were incinerated to produce 14 TWh of energy (equivalent to 2.5% of country’s total energy needs) in 32 WTE plants. 

The country recognized the risks and problems associated with landfills and designed policy and regulatory framework to promote WTE. The key success factors are presented in Table-5 below.

Table-5: WTE Policy and Regulatory Environment in Sweden





Ban                on
High      Landfill


Ban since 2002 on landfilling combustible waste.
Tax on waste landfilled at 435
SEK/ton (INR3500/ton)

Less than 2% of waste ends up in

Carbon Tax


Carbon tax on coal is equivalent of INR 3.3/kWh
Carbon tax on household waste is equivalent of INR 1.3/kWh

5.0 million tons incinerated



Recognition of WTE as renewable

14 TWh of energy produced



Development of District Heating Network and Infrastructure 

15% of District
Heating load supplied by WTE

Education and


Building public support through education at all levels starting schools.
Adapting technology and regulation on a regular basis

87% of population  took personal steps
for mitigating GHG emissions
WTE plants reduced emissions by 90% compared to 1980 

Source: Waste to Energy Success Factors in Sweden and the United States, Matt Williams, Dec 2011

Netherlands inaugurated a new plant in 2011 in Roosendaal, meeting the highest WTE recovery standards. The plant designed to treat 800 tons of waste per day was built with an investment of 200 million euros and will generate 256 GWh of energy per annum. Developed and operated by SUEZ Environment, it meets the R1 criterion which enables control of hazardous waste and ensures it traceability. The plant will also supply heating and hot water to cities as part of the smart power supply network resulting in 56% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  

Denmark is another country taking big strides in WTE along with Germany, Netherlands and Sweden. In Denmark there were 29 operating WTE plants in 2010 and another 10 planned or under construction. Denmark is taking WTE to the next level by organizing architectural competitions for designing WTE plant buildings and constructing them within the city. A new plant under construction in Copenhagen will integrate WTE with a 500m ski slope. So instead of a mountain of waste, there will be a “white mountain of snow”. 

Picture-5: Copenhill/Amager Blake (expected to be commissioned in 2017)

Picture Credit: Babcock & Wilcox, Vølund, Denmark

The plant, owned collectively by five municipalities will handle 1,100 tons per day of waste and produce electricity to serve a minimum of 50,000 households and district heating to 120,000 households. It is a multi-purpose plant that is already catching the eyes of the world because of its local appeal. The plant provides energy and waste treatment, and will be an architectural landmark and a leisure facility. The novelty of the project is the combination of ingenious technology and innovative architecture in a project dedicated local community. Likewise in another suburb, the incinerator is surrounded by a bush so when the residents look out they see a forest while the plant is another few hundred yards. In Paris, the new Isseanne WTE plant is located within the city and two-thirds of it will be located below the ground. 

Closer home, Shenzhen city in China is building the world’s largest WTE plant that will stretch almost a mile and treat 5000 tons/day, a third of city’s waste. China is the world’s largest producer of waste and is planning to build 300 WTE plants over the coming decade. It has already experienced phenomenal growth over the last few years. The first WTE plant was established in 2002 and since then over 100 plants have been built and produced about 19 TWh of electricity last year.

Danish firms Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Gottlieb Paludan Architects won a competition to design the Shenzhen plant. According to them, the facility will utilize the most advanced technology in waste incineration and power generation. The huge circular building will boast a 66,000-square-metre roof, two thirds of which will be covered with photovoltaic panels, allowing the building to generate its own sustainable supply of energy. It will also feature a series of visitor facilities, including a looping walkway that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the plant, before leading up to a rooftop viewing platform. 

Globally, there is a renewed focus on waste management and intention to increase recycling as the primary option. WTE fits well in that rubric and is expanding rapidly given the advances in technology, policy support and welcome change in public perception. 


WTE involves large capital cost and raising financing is challenging due to lack of understanding and data relating to financial and economic cost of alternative options. The recent evidence and a consequent shift towards WTE suggests maturing of technology and its emergence as the most economic option. Table-6 below presents an international comparison from countries in Latin America and China.

Table-6: Key Technical and Financial Parameters (Illustrative WTE Plants)




Capital Cost (USD, Million)


1000 tons/day, 182 GWh/year



Metro Buenos

3000 tons/day, 600 GWh/year




3000 tons/day, 300 GWh/year




480 tons/day, 96 GWh/year



Source: A Look into the Future of the Global WTE Industry, N J Themelis, Columbia University and 
Waste to Energy in China: Key Challenges and Opportunities, D Zhang, G Huang, Y Xu and Q Gong, (various institutes) China 

From the above table it is evident that the capital costs vary quite significantly. It must however be recognized that these numbers are not directly comparable due to varying nature of MSW in different locations. Hence, the underlying technology maybe very different, particularly in respect of environmental safeguards required to be built in. Themelis estimated the global average capital cost of 25 plants located in various countries (except China) to be about USD 880/ton of MSW. In the Indian context, CERC recently recommended capital cost of INR 90 million/MW and inr 150 million/MW respectively for WTE plants based on Refuse Derived Fuel and WTE plants based on MSW respectively. A study by The Energy and Resources Institute came to somewhat higher capital cost of INR 167-180 million/MW for different types of WTE projects. 

Further, operating costs of a WTE plant are high relative to other power generation technologies due to impurities resulting in higher corrosion of various equipment. Further, the unit cost of delivered electricity can vary significantly due to varying calorific content of MSW. Typically, developing countries have higher organic matter and construction and debris waste mixed with MSW. This increase cost of segregation and lowers number of kilowatt hours produced per ton of waste. 

Revenue recovery from WTE projects comprises of sale of recovered and recyclable materials, compost and energy. Markets for some of the recovered products such as aluminum are global and volatile. In most developing countries, market for compost is generally underdeveloped and needs effort towards education and marketing. Energy sales hence represent the largest revenue potential source.

Even though there are multiple potential revenue streams, financing WTE remains challenging. The primary reason is that most developing countries do not offer a “gate fee”. Financial returns are mostly constrained due to lower affordability in developing countries. Wilson et al. in a study of 20 cities in six continents found that financial sustainability as measured by percentage of population paying for waste collection in developing countries to be extremely low. Average for lowermiddle income cities was about 28% while that for upper middle income countries was 56% i.e. twice of low income countries. An average, based on Wilson et. al. and Schienberg, GWMO estimates “rule of thumb” limit on affordability for waste management services as 1% of per capital income. On this basis, one can suggest a charge of INR 500/annum in rural areas, INR 1000 in semi urban-areas and INR 2000/annum in metros as potentially feasible. Given the increasing urbanization and per capita income, it should be possible to benchmark these costs relative to inflation. It is hence possible for municipalities and local bodies to start collecting a nominal fees and using the same for financing SWM and WTE projects. A “gate fee” financed by user charges is considered efficient and will enable some metros to move towards desired recycling and WTE projects. 

Since the user fee will generally not suffice to cover the cost, there is a need to consider and attempt innovative financing mechanisms. Different approaches are being tried globally to suit local context and needs. Colombia is creating a NAMA (Nationally Appropriate mitigation Actions) Fund for the waste sector. The goal of the fund is to improve the investment climate by directly financing projects, but also by reforming the sector. The fund will contribute equity capital on concessional basis to build waste treatment and waste to energy facilities. Simultaneously, the Government plans to modify the waste tariff regulations so that diverting waste for recycling and WTE can compete with landfilling. In Nepal, World Bank supported a project under the Global Partnership for Output Based Aid (GPOBA). Under the project, the World Bank provided subsidy to five participating municipalities based on two key outputs i.e. improved quality of waste management services and improved financial sustainability of local bodies.

Two other financing mechanisms are gaining support of policy makers given the climate change and sustainability concerns. First, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is becoming increasingly popular even in low and middle income countries as it internalizes the “polluter pays” principle. Most common way of applying it is to charge an advance recovery fee charged at the time of purchase. It can also be structured to promote environmentally sound products that are less resource intensive or require less recycling. Countries such as Switzerland have a voluntary but very successful EPR as producers and companies effectively used it to enhance their “green image” in line with advancing corporate social responsibility goals. 

In China, the milestone legislation, the Circular Economy Promotion law (CEPL) came into force in January 2009. It embodies the life-cycle approach and producer responsibility for listed products. Likewise, Brazil adopted the National Solid Waste Policy Bill in 2010 which introduces a “take-back” system. The financial responsibility is allocated to the private producers and a public entity providing such service has to be adequately remunerated by the private sector. 

Second, economic instruments designed in a progressive manner such as taxes (production and consumption of hazardous substances such as batteries, plastic bags), subsidies and tax credit are being used. These are offered to private companies in waste management and WTE and may include property development rights a part of land reclaimed form disposal sites. In addition, WTE projects requiring large capital investments are also supported by providing land free of cost, non-revenue mechanisms such as guaranteed access to sufficient waste and by considering electricity to be renewable to enable utility offset against renewable purchase obligation. 

While the above challenges are being gradually addressed, broad based international support coupled with innovative financing is enabling an increasing number of projects. In November 2015, for example, 68 new projects were announced globally according to the Waste Business Monitor. This took the total number of new projects announced, over last twelve months, to over 1000 and investment value exceeding USD 79 billion. WTE and biofuel generation projects formed the majority with a combined share of over 60% each. It is interesting to note that developing countries are not shying from taking the challenge and emerging as frontrunners in investing in the sector. In November, for example, India was on the top of table with projects worth USD 484 million representing 14% of global investments. Nigeria and Argentina with proposed investments of USD 278 million and USD 186 million were at third and fifth place respectively.

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)

India’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission for the first time brings political priority required to address the challenge and engage the common man on the street. It was launched by the Prime Minister who has laudably involved himself thereby bringing the desired attention. It will be implemented in a mission mode with an overall budget of close to USD 10 billion and provides a detailed yearly outcomes matrix. The Mission plans to achieve 100% collection, transportation, processing and disposal of SWM in over 4000 towns covering all urban and semiurban areas. Another important dimension of the Mission focuses on personal health, hygiene and sanitation by prioritizing construction of household and community toilets. The aim under this component is to construct approximately 11 million toilets coupled with eradication of manual scavenging.

The Mission recognizes the need for comprehensive sanitation planning and the hence requires states to develop their Sanitation Strategy and City Level Sanitation Plans. Urban Local Bodies (ULB) are expected to prepare Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for SWM for their respective cities in consultation with the State Government. SBM places a strong emphasis on viability by requiring the
DPRs to be bankable with a viable financial model. This is part of the overall SBM objective of creating an enabling environment for private sector participation in capital expenditure and well as operation and maintenance. 

Thus, the Mission encourages Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for implementation to attract capital as well as to introduce efficiency and best practices. At the same time it recognizes that at the current stage of development, there will be need to support and supplement private funding through mechanisms such as grant and viability gap funding. 

For ensuring a smooth review and implementation, each state will constitute a High Powered Committee (HPC) that will select institutes of national repute for appraisal of DPRs. Further to the appraisal, HPC will be responsible for approval of DPR and financial model of SWM projects. The project implementation architecture at the national level will include National Advisory and Review Committee and National Mission Directorate to provide support structure and issue guidelines and advisory to states. 

Another important element of SBM focuses on capacity building at State and ULB level. A training calendar will be prepared under the supervision of State Mission Director to ensure that identified officials and personnel undergo required training to ensure success of SBM. Further, states will identify internal “Master Trainers” which will be provided training and material under the Central Government SBM (Urban) component. 

Overall, SBM for the first time provides political attention, administrative support and funding at the national level to tackle the waste management challenge. Implementation will still be done at the State level. SBM however encourages private participation and provides a framework for it. This is a welcome change. Institutional Capacity in ULBs at the State level needs to be strengthened and SBM does well to identify and prioritize it. If executed well, SBM has the potential to transform India’s cities and urban areas. More importantly, it can dramatically improve health, hygiene and sanitation status of millions.  

IL&FS Environment: A Pioneer in Environment and Waste Management

IL&FS Environmental Infrastructure & Services Ltd (IEISL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services is a leading name in the waste management sector. With about 5 million tons of waste management mandates across 28 sites in 10 States, IEISL has implemented successful benchmarks in the Integrated Waste Management (IWM) space. The Company is amongst the first to mainstream Carbon financing in waste management. The waste management facilities set up by IEISL scientifically processes and recycle organic waste into organic fertilizer, construction & demolition waste to recycled building products and combustibles into green power. A Collection & Transportation mandated to IL&FS Environment for Central Zone of South Delhi is amongst the first initiatives in the country where segregation will be done at source. IEISL team is developing a strategy to engage with communities and citizens as their participation will be crucial for success of this project and its future replication in other parts of the city and country. The showcase projects based on IWM model implemented by IEISL in Delhi are: 

  1. Waste to Energy Plant, Ghazipur 
  2. Construction & Demolition Waste processing facility, Burari
  3. Waste to Composting Plant, Okhla 

All these projects are successful examples of PPP framework which can be replicated in other parts of the Country. Besides being major mitigators of pollution in the city of Delhi, these plants are also instrumental in saving precious urban land worth of crores.

Recognising established credentials of IL&FS Environment in this difficult sector, Ministry of Urban Development has recently approached IL&FS Environment to handle waste management project in the holy city of Varanasi under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Being the parliamentary constituency of Hon. Prime minister,Varanasi project is a feather in the impressive portfolio of IEISL.



IEISL and IL&FS recognized at the outset that developing socially relevant projects in India ensures long term commercial viability. Hence, a programme for engaging about 350 rag picker families living close to the landfill was designed and launched. Of these 180 work at the Ghazipur WtE plant and earn a respectable livelihood. For others, particularly to engage women, an alternative income generation plan was designed. Creation of a self-owned collective was central part of this plan. Gulmeher Green Producers Company (GGPC) was incorporated with women waste pickers as shareholders. During 2015 GGPC, employed 40 full time women and managed to reduce the number of women dependent on landfill by more than half. It has generated revenue of over INR 8.0 million over last few years and is poised to grow strength to strength.


SWM is a global challenge and India’s rapid development and urbanization is bringing to the forefront. In the past, limited efforts were made and institutional capacity and financing were a key concerns for the municipal and local bodies. Recent government initiatives such as the SBM and amendment to the power tariff policy making it mandatory for the distribution companies to procure all power produced at WTE facilities are expected to provide momentum to the sector. Direct involvement of the Central Government and personally of the Prime Minister to highlight the issues, provide solutions and financing to the sector is commendable. Continued monitoring, evaluation and mentoring will be required from the Centre to enable achievement of the objectives. 

Given the capital intensive nature of WTE projects, innovative financing mechanisms need to be considered to make projects viable. Several of these challenge are global and different countries are experimenting with alternative models. India needs to engage with various stakeholders and creatively involve private sector to bring capital, best practices and technology to manage the challenge at hand.

“We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children” - Chief Seattle

The article is co-authored by Mr Gaurav Bhatiani, Chief Operating Officer, IL&FS and Mr Mahesh Babu, Managing Director, IL&FS Environment Infrastructure & Services Ltd

As shared with IFIN Panorama Editorial Team

The opinions, views and ideas expressed in the article are solely of the author. Any ideas or opinions expressed by the author are personal views. We do not take any responsibility for any views or opinions and request to not rely upon it as a qualified opinion.

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