City market tenants issue 7-day deadline to shift plant
The president of Panaji Municipality Tenants Association Rajendra Dhumaskar issued a 7-day ultimatum to the Corporation of City of Panaji to shift the waste treatment plant, located at the market, as it is “spreading diseases besides emanating nauseating stench,” or else the traders would down their shutters and stage a dharna.
Dhumaskar said that the market vendors did not object to the setting up of the waste treatment facility as they felt that there was no other option, but they have now realised that it was a big mistake since as many as 8 traders with shops surrounding the plant have died of skin diseases besides cancer.
“Of late we have realised that many customers have stopped visiting these shops due to the nauseating stench, and as the place remains infested with house flies, and mosquitoes. So, we are now demanding to close the plant in the interest of public or the authorities should initiate some steps to rid the market of all the filth,’’ the market tenants said.
“The authorities keeping in mind the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Smart City Mission, should maintain the place clean as vegetables, fruits, chicken, mutton, fish and other items are sold here,” they added.
The tenants stated that in the near future monsoon will begin, and the drains will get choked and rainwater will enter the shops like in the past when the market had witnessed ‘deluge’ due to the unseasonal rain.
“Last month heavy showers had brought all the market activities to a grinding halt due to flooding; water entered the shops; gutters got choked and worms had surfaced everywhere,” they said.
Speaking further, they said that they have written a letter to the Commissioner Ajit Roy, appealing to him to shift the waste treatment plant from the market.
“In the last few years, several shopkeepers, especially, those with shops surrounding the garbage treatment plant have fallen victim to the lung infection, skin disease, liver infection, and malaria. Even cancer was detected in few cases,” they added.
Shopkeepers died due to plant ‘proximity’
The Panaji Municipal Market Vendors and Tenants Association claimed that due to the presence of waste treatment plant in the heart of the market many shopkeepers have died due to various ailments in the past couple of years, and many are suffering and presently some of them are undergoing treatment.
Addressing the media, the market tenants and vendors said that due to unhygienic conditions – nauseating stench, open drains and stagnation of garbage and waste water many shopkeepers especially those having shops surrounding the unit have fallen victims to various ailments.
They said that most of them died due to breathing problem, lung infection, skin disease, liver infection, malaria and even cancer.
They claimed that shopkeepers Prakash Dhumaskar, Francis chicken shop owner, Laxman Khandeparkar, Mahesh incense sticks seller, Patil Bhajiwallah and D Amonkar died due to similar ailments.
They said that business is the only source of income to them and have no other alternative but to compromise with their health to earn daily bread, and urged the authorities to shift the unit immediately to some other place – near KTC bus stand or EDC complex where such plant is already exiting.
Plant violating waste treatment guidelines
The waste treatment facility at the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) market is ‘not functioning properly.’ It has been found to violate several conditions laid down by the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for running such a facility.
A visit to the plant by this reporter revealed wet waste being dumped on the floor with leachate flowing into the drainage line, a possible health hazard.
The leachate is supposed to be collected in a closed water proof tank and no leachate shall be allowed to escape from the treatment facility.
Moreover, no odour limits and control measures are followed at the facility, which has been outsourced to a private operator BVG India Ltd.
One of the conditions laid down by the board on running the facility states that no foul or offensive odour should emanate from the treatment facility.
The compost pits were also found to be open.
The traders having shops near the facility have been complaining of stench emanating from the facility.
They said that the civic officials are not working towards tackling the problem.
When contacted, the GSPCB said that soon an inspection will be carried out to check the functioning of the facility.
The board said that authorization granted for running the plant will be revoked if the facility found to be operated in violation of the provisions under the Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016.
According to the CCP, the organic waste is processed using converter machines, and composting units built on a concrete platform have a provision for drainage of leachate into the sewerage network. During the process, the waste received is mixed with absorbent to ensure that least amount of leachate is generated.
The market was found to extremely filthy with chicken innards strewn on the floor. The open drains were found to flow down innards and blood and as a result the site has become a breeding ground for rats and flies.
It is not known as to whether drainage line is connected to the sewerage network.
In an bid to counter rat menace, traders use rat poison and store their stocks in plastic crates and jute sacks; rat hair or urine if get into contact with food items could result in outbreak of leptospirosis and other diseases.
The CCP, fourteen years ago, had set up a waste treatment plant just next to the new market.
The unit was designed in such a way that it can process 5000 kilograms of waste every day. The CCP later in 2016 signed an agreement with Zuari Agro Chemicals Ltd (ZACL) to market the city compost.
The terms and conditions laid down during the authorisation further state that the wet waste from hotels, market and other commercial establishment shall be pressed in the extruder; the waste water shall be treated in ETP and shall be used for floor washing and gardening.
The board has renewed the authorization for a period of five years till 2021 and made CCP responsible to operate the unit in compliance of the Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016 and guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board.