By Erwin Fonseca | NT
MAPUSA: With most village panchayats in Bardez and Pernem talukas failing to tackle garbage issue, it seems that the villagers are sitting on a time bomb of an epidemic.
The situation is going from bad to worse in these 50-odd village panchayats with garbage being thrown openly on hills, roadside drains, along roads, in private properties etc and no panchayat making any serious effort to take the issue head on. Panchayats are only pushing the blame on locals saying that locals are opposing garbage-treatment plants and by doing so the panchayats are trying to shy away from their responsibility.
Bardez and Pernem have around 53 panchayats and two municipalities. No doubt that the garbage issue in the Mapusa municipality is severe, the villages or rural areas where the garbage problem was unheard of, are now getting affected with the garbage problem. Garbage can be seen thrown anywhere and everywhere in village areas, be it along hills, in roadside drains, along roads, in private properties etc.
Commercial projects that have been coming up in rural areas have contributed manifold to this garbage problem as these projects have no plant of their own though it is required for them to have one. The garbage issue has now become severe in most Bardez villages and in a few villages in Pernem. Though the High Court is monitoring the issue, the panchayats are just trying to hoodwink the courts by pretending to set up plants so as to show their compliance to the courts but in reality no panchayat is working seriously to solve this issue.
For instance in the Siolim-Marna panchayat where the plastic collection drive is going on, locals had volunteered to set up a garbage plant and for that they had even sought the approval of the panchayat, but the panchayat secretary Mr Kambli is reluctant to give them the work and has cited some technical reasons. In Calangute panchayat however Mr Joseph Sequeira claims that there is a composting plant in place and the panchayat is not facing any problem with regard to disposal of garbage.
“We have a floating population of 10,000 so the garbage problem is bound to be there but we have minimised the menace,” he informed.
Enquiries with the Bardez BDO office revealed that just a few panchayats in Bardez were really working towards systematically solving the garbage issue and most panchayats were yet to make any headway. Sources informed that the panchayats were not showing keen interest in solving this issue and therefore did not rule out the fact that if this continued then there could be an outbreak of an epidemic.
Panchayat Minister, Mr Laxmikant Parsekar when contacted said that this was an issue that needed serious effort on the part of the panchayat. “The government is prepared to go to any extent to help the panchayats, it is they who should take the lead. Merely citing people’s opposition will not help. When you are not sincere with the people and do not take them into confidence then they will surely oppose,” he felt. Mr Parsekar informed that all roadsides and hills were full of garbage and people did not seem to be conscious about keeping their surroundings clean.
“Panch members must realise the gravity of the situation and must convince the people and take a lead in setting up some pilot composting plants. Once they ensure these plants function smoothly, people will not oppose,” he felt.
Incidentally, it has come to light that the directorate of panchayats has been giving `50,000 per panchayat per year to tackle only the garbage issue but nobody knows what the panchayats are doing with this amount as no panch members of panchayats seriously affected with this problem want to come clean with some claiming that the amount is spent in only lifting garbage.
Waste or garbage thrown in the open includes dry and wet waste. What is even another cause of concern is that much of such waste contains plastic and it is often seen that cows, stray dogs also feed on this garbage and scatter it everywhere which also later results in a stink.
“Somehow we have lost our human educated tendency in systematically solving this issue. It is sad to see that even big resorts and hotels and people staying in flats dump their garbage openly without any concern for nature,” informs Mr Lawrence Braganza, a concerned citizen who is also actively involved in spreading the message about a clean environment. He says that all our technology can come to naught if we cannot dispose of our garbage systematically and we are keeping ourselves deliberately unaware of the consequences it can have on us. He felt that it is not just the elected representatives to be blamed but the blame should be shared by one and all.