Saturday , 20 April 2019

Shedding Fears of Waste Treatment Plants

SUN, sea and sands – Goa’s idyllic image of being Nature’s paradise faces a serious threat of erosion with Panaji figuring out of the top 15 cleanest cities, until the government and civic bodies take steps urgently to put waste management in place. The city lost because it does not have a solid waste management plant to handle the waste it generates, and there are several spots where garbage is seen strewn or piled up providing a feast for crows, pariah dogs and rats. The dumping of garbage by households and commercial establishments on the edges of streets create unhygienic conditions and breed vector for diseases.
It was about three years ago that the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) granted authorization to the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) for an integrated municipal solid waste management facility at Bainguinim. The CCP was to organize house-to-house collection of segregated waste at a regular, pre-informed time. The composting units were to be constructed on raised cement concrete platforms. The GPSCB laid down that no solid waste or leachate from the Bainguinim plant should be allowed to escape from the waste processing or waste disposal facility into the surrounding ground. But the CCP could not build the facility owing to opposition from the local people. The GSPCB authorization is valid till June 24, 2016. The BJP MLA of Panaji Siddharth Kunkalienkar asserts that the CCP has not dropped the proposal to set up the Bainguinim facility. He promises a sophisticated plant like the one at Tonca “in the near future”. In that case the GPSCB authorization will have to be renewed for another three years before the CCP manages to start constructing the facility.
The harsh reality is that not only at Bainguinim but everywhere a solid waste management plant site has been selected opposition by local people sprouted. The GPSCB also granted approval for setting up of solid waste treatment plants at Saligao in North Goa and Cacora, Curchorem in South Goa. For these two plants the applicant was the directorate of science, technology and environment. GPSCB approval of the two plants, much as its authorization for Bainguinim, implied that the plants were environmentally safe and people did not have to worry about any pollution being caused by the location of the plants. Also, the science, technology and environment department planned to set up modern, state-of-the-art solid waste management facilities with three major sections of material segregation and recycling center, bio methanation and composting section and scientific secured landfill with a water requirement of 10 KLD. Despite the fact that the facilities promised to sort and recycle such materials as paper, glass and metal through separation – materials with which spots in Saligao and neighbouring Calangute were strewn with causing pollution and hazards of breeding of disease vector – they were opposed by local people.
The facility at Saligao made progress despite opposition, but the one proposed at Cacora could not. One of the issues raised by opponents was regarding the feed for the facility. While the plant would need to process a minimum of 100 tonnes of waste per day for its effective functioning, the opponents argued, the total garbage generated in Quepem and Sanguem taluka did not exceed 20 tonnes. The local people had serious objections to the transportation of waste from other parts of South Goa to the plant to meet its handling capacity. They demanded that the government first prepare a detailed project report and invite the views of the local people on it. As it happens, the opposition acquired political dimensions, with parties and local councillors whipping up public emotions on not allowing waste transportation from outside, because it would foul up and pollute the air and make their daily life miserable. The government could not succeed in allying their fears despite assuring that the waste would be transported to the plant would not be from beyond Quepem, Sanguem, Canacona and Dharbandora talukas. And the waste would be carried in securely enclosed containers with a waste compression device in order to prevent any foul odour from leaking out.
But the progress at the Saligao facility holds out hope that the people of Curchorem would be convinced that rather than polluting the air or doing any other harm, the state-of-art-technology provides for their containment without affecting the life of the people. On the contrary, the facilities would be beneficial to the people, assuring hygiene and eliminating risks of vector-borne diseases with the absence of dumps. And they will also help the capital city Panaji to get into the list of top 15 cleanest cities.

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