Braving the thick cloud of smoke still emanating from the Sonsoddo dump, residents of Raia, Curtorim, Camurlim, Rachol, Margao and Fatorda on Sunday clamoured for a stop to the dumping of garbage at the site.
The pitch against the Sonsoddo dump reverberated at a meeting held near the dumping site. Thereafter around 500 residents marched past the dump, which has been on fire for a week now.
Addressing the locals gathered near the dump to fight the dumping of un-segregated garbage, Curtorim MLA Reginaldo Lourenco said the fight is to stop garbage dumping at Sonsoddo.
“If the municipality cannot bring in segregated garbage then it should stop the dumping completely. If segregated garbage is brought, but not treated properly then that process should also be stopped… You cannot dump more on the existing garbage,” he said.
He said a high-powered meeting will be held on June 4 to decide whether the company operating the waste treatment plant – Fomento Green – should be allowed to continue or not.
Lourenco also took the opportunity to point fingers at the Margao municipal council for spending Rs 20 lakh on the enzyme Renerzyme, the fire department for listening to the MMC in using the enzyme and the Goa State Pollution Control Board for not giving figures on air quality assessed by its air stations located nearby.
The MLA praised the efforts of the fire services and district collectorate in dousing the fire.
At the meeting, the locals expressed their disappointment at the manner in which the situation has been handled.
“Children and elderly are the most affected by this incident. Waste dumping has to be reduced and this dump has to be removed. This can even have an effect on babies in the womb. The MMC should have relocated the affected people because the smoke will affect their health,” Dr Malindo Rebello said.
The residents also demanded a proper investigation into the cause of the fire.
“Our basic demand is: immediately stop the fire at the dump. Air monitoring stations have been put up. We demand that their reports should be made public. Many people have alleged that the fire was deliberate, so we demand that the government conduct a judicial inquiry and take strict action against those involved,” Roque Mascarenhas demanded.
As for a solution to the problem, activist Rupesh Shinkre urged people to reduce the use of plastic in their day-to-day lives.
Local sarpanchas and panchas, including Raia sarpanch Esmeralda Gomes, Camurlim sarpanch Basil Fernandes and ZP member Murino Rebello, also spoke at the meeting.
Meanwhile, additional collector Agnelo Fernandes, who was present along with the Salcete mamlatdar at the meeting, said the police and fire personnel continued to douse the fire with mud.
“Till now, we have managed to douse around 70 per cent of the fire. Our primary aim is to stop the fire and smoke along the roadside so that commuters are not affected. The fire at the other side is also being doused,” he said.