Civic bodies and panchayats not Keen on waste management
The North Goa district administration has started proceedings against the Taleigao panchayat to recover the fine of Rs 25,000 imposed on them in March 2017 by the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB). The panchayat was fined on GSPCB finding a case of burning of mixed waste at a dumpsite on the Nagali hill. A local resident had brought the burning of waste at the Nagali hill dumpsite to the notice of the GSPCB in February 2017, following which a GSPCB team carried inspection and booked a case against the panchayat for violation of the Goa Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act. The panchayat, however, failed to pay the amount. To make the panchayat pay the fine the GSPCB has sought the help of the revenue department. The additional collector of North Goa has issued a notice through the mamlatdar of Tiswadi to the Taleigao panchayat secretary directing him to deposit the penalty amount within three days. The panchayat has been warned that if it fails to pay the fine proceedings would be launched against it for recovering the amount as arrears under the Land Revenue Code.
The Taleigao panchayat is believed to be the first panchayat against which proceedings have been launched for recovery of penalty. There are seven other panchayats and four civic bodies, including the Corporation of the City of Panaji which too have been fined for similar offence and should attract similar action in the days ahead. Proceedings were launched against the Penha-de-Franca, St Cruz, Merces and Taleigao panchayats in North Goa and Betalbatim, Poinguinim, Chinchinim and Chicalim panchayats in South Goa following complaints from citizens about violations of law. Among the flouting civic bodies are CCP and Mapusa in North Goa and Margao and Mormugao in South Goa. These local bodies were directed by the GSPCB to identify the violators and take action against them but they failed to take action inviting imposition of fine. It is highly unfortunate that they did not care to pay the fine despite several reminders to their chief executive officers over a period of two and half years.
Since the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change notified the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM) in 2016 several directions have been issued to the states and panchayati raj institutions with regard to management of solid waste, be it plastic, e-waste, biomedical, hazardous and construction or demolition. Though most of Goa’s panchayati raj institutions have flouted the rules, the GSPCB has begun taking action against the ones that have been grossly disregarding the waste disposal norms. Burning of plastic waste in the errant panchayats continues unabated. The sarpanchas and the chairpersons of the municipal bodies do not seem to be caring a bit about cleanliness, hygiene and risks to people’s health and environment. They seem engrossed in their own businesses whatever they are. They have been grossly irresponsible. Conscious citizens who are residing in the flouting municipal areas and panchayats should build pressure on the heads of the panchayati raj institutions to take steps to handle waste effectively.
At a time when the central and state authorities are focusing on cleaning the environment and protecting it the action of the authorities of local bodies in not acting against those contributing to pollution of environment appears to be contrary to the goals the nation and state have set for themselves. Proper collection and disposal of waste by local bodies would clean the environment of pollutants and contribute in a real and effective manner to the Swachch Bharat Nitol Goem Missions. It is time the local self-governing bodies take the issue of environment seriously and ensure that waste is properly collected and segregated in a regular manner and disposed in accordance with the norms. To ensure that each local body adheres to the directions issued on solid waste management the government could consider imposing stiffer penalties, like superseding the local bodies or putting them under suspended animation. The government should also make legal provisions to ensure active participation of ward representatives of local bodies in the cleanliness drives. The ward representatives should be made accountable for compliance with the rules of management of solid waste of all kinds.