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Energy from Garbage - India's Loss Malaysia's Gain...
by Florine Roche - Mangalore

Aug 24, 2008

One country’s loss is another’s gain. Where can one find a better example for this than in India?  Bureaucratic wrangles, government apathy, lack of vision and farsightedness on the part of political leaders and finally pure bad luck resulted in handing over on a platter an indigenously developed technology to generate electricity from garbage, to Malaysia.   India’s loss proved to be Malaysia’s gain not just in terms of generating electricity from waste but in providing eco-friendly alternative mode of disposing garbage, a monster that hangs like Damocles sword.  

The brain behind 'Energy from Garbage' project, K Siva Prasad was in Mangalore recently to pay a visit to his daughter. Daijiworld's Florine Roche caught-up with him to learn more about the shocking story of the 78-year-old Engineer, who used his time, energy, skills and resources to develop an indigenous technology of generating energy by recycling waste. 
But the infamous Indian bureaucracy and the appalling political leadership, right from Bangalore to Delhi failed to gauge the importance of this technology, thus  depriving the people of this country an opportunity of benefiting from this kind of environment-friendly project. India's loss has finally proved to be a gain for Malaysia.


Generally it is said “Out of sight is out of mind”. But this maxim doesn’t apply to garbage, one of the biggest ghosts facing the entire world today, threatening the very existence of human civilization.  One cannot get away with out of sight out of mind theory for the simple reason that waste never really goes away.  It may change location or morph into another form or may resurface after decades.  So when an alternative was developed it was just allowed to be slipped off.  An idea that germinated in the mind of an Indian during his visit to America resulted in developing a technology in India, in Bangalore to be precise was whisked away by Malaysia and will be commissioned by the end of this year.  

This sordid incident goes like a story and the central figure of this story is K S Siva Prasad, a Chennai-born Mechanical Engineer by Profession, running a family tobacco business in Andhra went to America in connection with business y in the 70’s.  The world was hit by oil crisis in the 70’s and USA government was bent upon finding an alternative source of energy and waste or garbage was identified as a potential source of developing alternative energy.  The idea of using garbage as a waste to develop fuel took shape there. The family had moved to Bangalore by then as the soil in Mysore was considered conducive for growing high quality tobacco.  

But the idea of garbage as fuel was put to work in 1986 and within three years Siva Prasad developed a pilot project and patented it. The United Nations chose it as of the 101 best projects for sustainable technology development.  As agreed upon in the Rio Earth Summit by the participating nations, Siva Prasad represented India to make a presentation on this topic in 1995 in Bangkok and was selected as the best technology in the Asia Pacific Region. 


In the meanwhile Mr Prasad wanted to put a large scale commercial plant and then began the hunt for land from the government. Since waste comes under the government management, the project had to come up in a government designated land. Then Chief Minster of Karnataka Veerendra Patil had sanctioned the project but fate intervened.  His government was sacked by then Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi within two days and the project got doomed. The project met with a derisive and dismissive snort from Mr Bangarapppa who took over from Patil.  “If Patil government had survived for another two days Bangalore would have got the project”, Prasad recalls. 

Similarly he approached state governments of Delhi, Andhrapradesh, Tamilnadu. Though all the state governments and the Ministry of Non Conventional energy sources were enthused by the project, it never got started.  Under tech-savvy Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu even the foundation stone was laid and initial work had begun.  But it got washed away in the over flooded waters of Krishna.  In Channai  the private promoter selected by Tamilnadu Investment & Development Corporation (TIDCO) was arrested for fraud.  The Delhi Government under Madan Lal Khurana had sanctioned 32 acres of land on prime highway but the private promoter, a rich lottery business dealer with 100 crore turnover per day,   suffered a heart attack when the Delhi government banned lottery. The fiery T N Seshan who headed the group of secretaries put down the proposal of the department of Non Conventional Sources of energy when it came for his sanction.  


“The project got sacked in Karnataka, washed away in Andra, suffered a heart attack in Delhi and got entangled into fraud in Tamilnadu”, says the 78 year-young Siva Prasad with a mischievous chuckle.  Amidst all this high voltage drama and the setbacks everywhere the Prasad family was able to keep his sanity intact.  Finally a ray of hope came in the form of a private Company from Malaysia which evinced interest in the project and the deal was signed in 2000 for the joint venture.  He set up a pilot project because garbage varies from place to place and one needs to put a pilot project and run it for at least a year and to get the vital data so that one can design a gigantic commercial plant.  The project takes a holistic approach towards waste management where waste as a resource is used to develop energy. Apart from being a viable operating unit it contributes value addition to the economy by generating green power, which is the need of the hour.  

The work at Kajang Project of Malaysia began in 2004 and it works in two segments i.e fuel preparation and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) plant.  The RDF technology converts combustible matter into free burning pellets.  These fuel pellets can be used for steam and power generation.  At the Kajang plant, the entire process for converting solid waste to fuel takes about forty minutes.

At the heart of the operations is the patented Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) technology.  Waste is thrown into the machines which get sorted out with plastic metal etc., getting separated at the first stage.  The waste then gets shredded and goes for drying.  Here the combustible material gets lifted up and heavy things get dropped down. The combustibles are then compacted into pellets.  Therefore, RDF consists mainly of dried organics, textiles and paper and it is the most environmentally friendly way to produce electricity.

The plant in Malaysia processes 1000 tons per day of waste in a 28 acre facility. The capacity of the power plant is 9 MW. It is scheduled to commence operation by year end and will export 5.5 MW to the grid. 3.5 MW is kept aside for self use.    The investment in the Waste to Energy plant is 50 Million USD.  This is the first operating plant in the ASEN region. This is set up in a joint venture with CORE COMPETENCIES SDN BHD, a joint venture between Malaysian company and Mr Siva Prasad.  If one looks at the life cycle cost of RDF, the investment cost is very less as it requires just one time investment.   


The entire Prasad family eats lives and breathes only green fuel.  His wife Sharada, daughter Chellam and son Shiva Shankar Prasad are totally involved in the project contributing their mite in developing this technology.  The pain of rejection in their own land is writ large on their faces.  But they have taken it in their strides because their invention has at least fructified somewhere else if not in India without going into the drains.   Age has not withered Mr Prasad’s fervor for experiments.   Even now he puts in 12 hours of work a day.  In fact the entire family sometimes recalls and laughs over the events that unfolded in their quest for putting their technology to good use. 


The RDF process is not only environment-friendly but is environment benign as the technology converts garbage into energy and in the process proves doubly beneficial - by getting rid of the hazardous garbage by the process of elimination and also by producing green energy. Major advantage of this technology is that it reduces the amount of garbage we burry in land fills.  Burning waste substantially reduces the amount of thrash going into land fills as even dead buried waste resurfaces after decades.  By recycling something we don’t need we get something we need and in the process we contribute in our way in safeguarding our planet earth which cannot be recycled. 

With the country facing severe energy crunch our country can opt for this eco-friendly way of getting rid of the monster garbage staring at us and also get the crucial energy required. 

Let us hope the present government in Karnataka will rise up to the occasion to ensure that other people like Mr Siva Prasad who devoted their time and energy to come up with an innovative technology, do not feel let down due to its callous attitude and apathy.   It is better late than never.  It is unfortunate and foolhardy that a technology developed by our own country is first put to use somewhere else.  Can we at least expect our present day politicians to be more prudent? 

Florine Roche - Archives:

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  • Mangalore: Sudhir Ghate – a Rebel with a Cause
  • Mangalore: NRI Cell to Aim at Welfare of NRIs - Capt Ganesh Karnik
  • It’s GET, SET, GO For Mangalore Special Economic Zone
  • Mangalore: Bright Faces of Meghalaya Blossoming in Nitte
  • Krishna Palemar: Journey from a Travel Agent to State Minister
  • Spreading Indian Flavor in Samba Land – Brazil
  • Mangalore: K R Rai - The Radio Voice that Ruled the Roost
  • Mangalore: The Endless Allure of Vintage Beauties
  • Love Wrapped in Kuswar
  • Creating Waves: FM Radio Bug to Hit Mangalore
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    Comments on this article
    P.Uthran, KannurIndiaSaturday, May 21, 2011
    It is a very important invention, producing Electricity from Garbage,When Goverment facing Garbage disposal problems and also shortage of Electricity.One short for two problems. Keep it up Mr.Shivaprasad
    Comment on this message     

    Nabi, LondonTuesday, September 01, 2009
    It is another great story of innovation particularly in South Asian region on green technology.I would love to pass on Mr. Siva''s idea to the policy makers of Bangladesh where I''m originally from.Is it possible to get hold of Mr. Siva''s contact details and also the joint venture in Malasia.many thanks for sharing the story.
    Comment on this message     

    Godfrey D''Souza, Mangalore/MumbaiWednesday, June 17, 2009
    Garbage, That''s what our politicians are here in India. Mr.Prasad, If you can convert them into some sort of energy for our country, Please try. Congratulations on your endeavours and wish you all the very best and many more successes in future. Regards to Mrs. Prasad and Ms. Chellam whom we had the pleasure of meeting recently. Stella and Godfrey.
    Comment on this message     

    Kesavan jai shankar, ChennaiThursday, June 11, 2009
    Making the country clean & environment friendly, i greatly appreciate the brave innovative technology of mr.Prasad, its a god gift. am being a visualizer like to meet him once at the earliest.
    Comment on this message     

    Lata Iyer, DelhiMonday, September 01, 2008
    We are all proud of Mr. Siva Prasad. He did not give up. He was not disappointed. He did not lose hope or faith. May we all learn something from him. In these days when Sustainability is an important concern, Mr. Prasad should be treated as a major Hero in our country. Anyway thanks to Daiji to have brought this inspiring story to us.
    Comment on this message     

    A.Kester, US/CaliforniaSaturday, August 30, 2008
    I love what the family is doing. He who laugh last, laughs best! Keep up the good work.
    Comment on this message     

    Suresh, USATuesday, August 26, 2008
    Great inspiring story. Congratulations to Prasad and family.
    Comment on this message     

    Comment on this message     

    Peter Piadade Menezes, Mangalore / OmanTuesday, August 26, 2008
    Great brains Mr. Siva, I think you are a very simple & down to earth man. How our high profile politicians & business entepreneour recognise you? when they can't even look at the garbage. Mangalore, moodshedde( near TB hospital) would have enough for your Large scale project ( not pilot project). All the best Mr. Shiva
    Comment on this message     

    alex, kuwaitMonday, August 25, 2008
    Indians are not honoured in their own India however good they are, yet they get lots laurels and appreciation elsewhere. That is a sad reality. The truth is India will take atleast 50 years to get to a level of China did within a decade.
    Comment on this message     

    Roland Noronha, Mangalore/MumbaiMonday, August 25, 2008

    Having read your project story, I find there is absolutely no mention about state of Maharashtra. I am sure, if you had to approach Maharashtra Govt. you would have definitely got an opportunity to implement this project.

    Today Maharashtra especially Mumbai needs such projects. I wish you would come to our rescue - Never too late Mr. Siva Prasad. I congratulate you for your hardwork. Yes, our Indian Govt. is most corrupt and ignore such attractive projects.

    Comment on this message     

    Tanveer, UAEMonday, August 25, 2008
    No wonder India is facing the brain drain. People like Sir.Siva prasad are a boon to our country and we do not realise that. The political nitty gritties are dampening the green revolution. Hats off to Sir.Siva, keep the good work going, there will be light someday,sanity prevails.
    Comment on this message     

    steven, DubaiMonday, August 25, 2008
    Thanks Daiji Team for finding this hidden PEARL. My opinion on this is even now Mr Prasad have the option. If he wants this mission for his country it is not too late. DAIJIWORLD media will Shake this issue with local and national media, If not someone will rise.
    Comment on this message     

    Jose, goaMonday, August 25, 2008
    All the best and blessing for the wounderful person who was not recognised by our beloved politicians. God has blessed you sir
    Comment on this message     

    Melwyn Pereira, Mangalore/SharjahMonday, August 25, 2008

    Indis's loss is Malaysia's gain - how apt a title - Thank you Florine Roche for highlighting the issue. Hats of to Mr Siva Prasad - Even now its not too late as India has a lot of garbage and after reading this article if any of our Government babus are touched.

    Please do something for the country other than politicizing. Mr Siva Prasad and his family have not forgotten their roots.He has proved himself and his theory right and now its up to us Indians to make use of his technology.

    Comment on this message     

    Priya Das, Karkala / MumbaiMonday, August 25, 2008
    It is so overwhelming and great!!! Best wishes to Mr. Siva Prasad and his family. Also my very best wishes to Mr. Florine Roche for such nice and valuable articles every now and then.
    Comment on this message     

    Ajfrede J. Rebello, Kundapur/DDubaiSunday, August 24, 2008
    If Mr. Shiva Prasad had to get the opportunity to use his simple invention to generate energy we need not to go for nuclear for energy but to garbage perhaps. And this would have solved not only the energy problem but even garbage problem the nation is facing and our nation would have become clean. But our politicains think otherwise, what they benefit from it. And thus is the tragedy we Indians are facing. This incidence tells us Malayasian politicians are better thinkers than our own. And because of that they not only get cheap energy but also their country is clean perhaps since the garbage is re-cycled for energy and we dump everywhere.
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    Clifford, MangaloreSunday, August 24, 2008
    Mr. Siva Prasad spend his valuable time for research and development of new technology which is useful for the later generation. This is the only reason Mr. Siva Prasad is not a politician. Unfortunately this proves that corruption is more beneficial to Indian politician than anything else.
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    Rajesh Sequeira, Kulshekar, DubaiSunday, August 24, 2008
    Isnt it Ms Chelam Prasads Father wow. I have heard a lot about him but very sad we Indians didnt have this opportunity to have this great engineer to use his ideas in India since our politicians are not benfitting. Great Man.But one thing is great for Inidians that An Indian star is shining in Malaysia
    Comment on this message     

    Darrel Pereira, Bajpe / MuscatSunday, August 24, 2008
    It is very unfortunate that we have let down Mr. K. Siva Prasad's vision of making our country clean & environment friendly. It is still not late for our ministers & bureaucrats to look into the project and take a logical decision.
    Comment on this message     

    Rajesh, Mang/BarbadosSunday, August 24, 2008
    Great!! No words to explain! Best wishes to Sivanna. .It's always nice to see Indians do great deal across the world! cheers
    Comment on this message     

    Godfrey Pais, Kadri / Abu DhabiSunday, August 24, 2008
    What a fantastic idea. Mr. Siva Prasad could present his invention at the Zayed future Energy Prize summit. Definitely he will win the prize of US Dollars 1.5 Million. Can somebody approach Mr. Siva Prasad to log on to www.zayedfutureengeryprize.com to submit his project. Good Luck to Mr. Siva Prasad.
    Comment on this message     

    vsevolod nestor dcosta, mangaloreSunday, August 24, 2008
    Dear Mr. K Siva Prasad it is sad to know that we in India could not benifit from your project. but still let the flag of India fly high in malaysia and thanks to you for that.
    Comment on this message     

    alphonse, Pangla/Abu DhabiSunday, August 24, 2008

    This is another example of our pure bureaucracy in India. Our politicians are putting genuine people's efforts in the drain to be washed away. It is a shame that we have this very ugly politicians who bent upon hindering all the genuine projects for their political gain. Forgetting about the people they promise to serve. It is time some of our business comunity come forward and support the projects like this in future. If we keep on waiting for the nod from the goverment, it is never going to happen. Our beatuful Mangalore/Banglaore would have reach many many mile stones, if we did not have this ugly bureaucracy.

    Anyways, Daiji, keep up the good work and keep enlighten us on these issues and if possible try to bring open the dirty politics and the politicians to face the wrath of the people.

    Comment on this message     

    Shabeer Ahmed, Mangalore, Dammam.Sunday, August 24, 2008
    This is why india is still a developing country. True skills of a personnel are never recogniozed by our government. Hats off to Mr. Siva Prasad, no problem if not in india, but his dream has come true.
    Comment on this message     

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