HAVING failed to effectively manage different types of waste – solid, electronic, biomedical and hazardous – through different agencies, the state government has decided to form Goa Waste Management Corporation as a single agency for the purpose. The corporation would start functioning from December and manage collection, treatment, storage, disposal and proper utilization of waste by framing policies and establishing and developing infrastructure and facilities for scientific management of all types of waste. The new corporation would also manage facilities which have already been established or are in the process of being established. It would also develop areas for effective disposal of all types of waste in consultation with the government for the purpose of making them available for effective management of waste.
The corporation would be expected to promote and implement schemes for managing waste with the active participation of households, institutions, corporates, panchayats and municipalities. It has to also develop a database of available technologies and best practices to handle waste. With the corporation vested with powers to acquire and hold properties to carry out activities and also to lease or sell the properties to the person intending to start waste management services, waste management should hopeful get better. The state generates 400-450 tonnes of solid and wet waste on daily basis, out of which 200 tonnes comprises solid waste. Annually, the state generates 72,000 tonnes of solid waste. Statistics reveal that against this, over the last two years only around 6,145 tonnes of solid waste has been collected from 189 panchayats and 13 municipal councils and a municipal corporation, which shows that the waste collection and management is very poor in the state.
The main reasons for ineffective handling and disposal of waste are firstly, lack of facilities for storing, segregating, processing and disposal of waste; secondly, lack of equipment; and thirdly, inadequate manpower for collection and segregation. Besides, there is no state policy to deal specifically with biomedical waste and e-waste. Though the authorities made big announcements to deal with solid and plastic waste, they failed to take steps to deploy adequate manpower for collection of waste. The local bodies that were directed to make arrangements for spaces to handle the collected waste appeared to have done a half-hearted job as a result of which the waste collection disposal has been a casualty. Besides, there is opposition to location of waste disposal facilities everywhere, with no village or town agreeing to give land to any waste treatment plant. The state government managed to set up a state-of-art facility at Saligao after overcoming opposition from locals, who have ensured that only the waste collected from Saligao and some nearby coastal villages would be treated at the plant. Another similar plant has been in the making for several years in South Goa with no signs of its completion and functioning. The people have also opposed charging of garbage fee, which could have helped local bodies to meet some of the expenditure incurred on collection of waste and for its disposal. Besides, most people prefer to dump waste at any open space, be it along the roads or open spaces, not caring for sanitation and consequences of open air dumping. The problems are further compounded by the absence of waste disposal bins, which serves as licence for throwing the waste anywhere.
The management of the new corporation has their task cut out to not only deal with the solid waste but also with ever growing quantities of e-waste and medical waste, besides managing the plastic waste. Around 10 tonnes of bio-medical waste is generated in the state on daily basis. The hospitals in the state have been claiming that nearly 9 tonnes is disposed of by them adopting deep burial system. The lone functional incinerator at the Goa Medical College at Bambolim is capable of treating 50 kg per hour which is not adequate to handle the bio-medical waste of one tonne generated at GMC, let alone handling waste of other hospitals. It is therefore necessary that an incineration plant with much higher capacity is immediately set up by the new corporation to handle bio-medical waste. It has also to lay down norms for collection and segregation of bio-medical waste as per the global standards for its safe handling. Besides, ways and means have to be found for disposal of e-waste before it becomes a major problem. Goa as a tourist state has much at stake in terms of cleanliness and scientific handling of waste. Hopefully, the corporation would lead the state on to the right course in waste management and slowly change the notion carried home by visitors that Goa is beautiful but unclean.