Maybe we were wrong about Bellandur Lake all along. Given the interest that companies from UK, Israel and now Germany have shown, it seems the lake is not dead and decaying as we had earlier thought. In fact, Bengaluru is perhaps blessed to have such a storehouse of resources in its midst; one would be forgiven to think that we are in Africa, and not India.
But let’s keep it straight — the heart of the matter is the 500 MLD (million litres per day) of sewage that gets dumped into the lake every day. It is the same sewage – fermented over decades – that has turned out to be the money-spinner for Karnataka. “This sewage filled with chemicals has the potential to transform the lake into one of the largest energy fields in the world,” says Ajay Girotra, Managing Director of New Delhi-based firm AG Dauters, which is interested in setting up plants on the lakebed.
Multiple companies have had a couple of round of talks with the government on taking up projects here. AG Dauters is the latest to join the league. It made a presentation before Energy Minister DR.Sivakumar on Saturday. According to the firm, Bellandur – besides providing medical grade drinking water for the whole of Bengaluru and Kolar on daily basis – could also light up Bengaluru and New Delhi by generating 5,000 MW of power every day.
While other companies are still tight-lipped about the terms and conditions of their deal, the New Delhi-based firm, which plans to implement a US-German technology to treat the lake, has asked for 2 acres and a antee from the government that it would buy water, power and fuel from the firm. If the Karnataka government agrees to the deal, the company would set up its plants on the banks of the lake at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore. In 10 months, the actual ‘mining’ would begin, which would give a fresh lease of life to the frothing lake, according to Girotra.
“Adopting our plasma gasification technology, which is proven and presently the most advanced technology in the world, we can extract power, water and fuel with zero discharge,” he added.
An estimate by Girotra’s firm, presented before the government, has revealed that Bellandur can give medically fit water not only to Bengaluru but to the parched district of Kolar as well. “Up to 50 MLD of sewage going into a lake spread across 37,000 acres would translate to 50 crore litres every day. If we process this voluminous sewage, it would yield 5,000 MW of power – enough to light up Bengaluru and still have excess.”
“The treatment would provide us with 25 crore litres of medically fit water (contrary to the promise of irrigation quality water by other countries) besides yielding 20 crore litres of fuel per day.
The fuel could be extracted in any format. Be it the aviation turbo fuel (ATF), CNG or diesel. The diesel would be of zero-emission quality,” said the MD.
One wonders, is this what other firms interested in Bellandur are also offering? Not really, according to Girotra, who says it’s like comparing “a bicycle with a Mercedes”. “While others are coming in to set up STPs that would leave behind sludge, slurry posing another problem, our plants would leave zero discharge. The government is excited about the findings and invited us for a site visit this week,” he said.
The firm is only asking for 2 acres along the inlets of the lake. “I was told there are two inlets into the lake and we want two acres on the banks of these inlets to set up the plant. We do not want anything from the government. But it must enter into an agreement with us to buy water, power and fuel through which we get back our investment of Rs 40,000 crore,” Girotra explained.
Given by the frenzy that’s building up around the lake, who knows what resources lie buried in the lakebed. Maybe they’ll find a mermaid or two