Mapusa: A day after Saligao villagers stopped 14 garbage-laden trucks that were on way to the Saligao garbage treatment plant, Minister for Garbage Management Michael Lobo on Monday came out in support of the protesters and accepted the mistake on behalf of panchayats of not adhering to norms.
Lobo directed all 27 panchayats that send waste to the plant to cover the vehicles that carry garbage to the plant, use collection drums for wet garbage and also to fit leachate tank or else they will not be allowed to enter the plant.
Lobo also assured that the Saligao garbage treatment plant will cater to waste from the 27 panchayats of North Goa only and will not allow any more panchayat to send its waste to the plant.
Following protest by the Saligao villagers, Lobo had on Monday called officials of all North Goa panchayats whose garbage is treated at the plant. The meeting attended by sarpanchas and secretaries of the respective panchayats was presided over by Lobo in the presence of Levinson Martins, managing director of Solid Waste Management Corporation, Gopal Parsekar, panchayat director in presence of other officials from the plant.
During the meeting, the panchayat officials were asked to properly cover the garbage-carrying vehicles, fit leachate tray or tank to avoid spillage and to use drums or larger bins for collection of wet garbage.
Interacting with representatives of panchayats, Lobo supported the agitating Saligao villagers and said that he accepts the mistake on behalf of the panchayats. Lobo appealed everyone not to give political colour to issue as garbage issue is very sensitive.
Waste plant representatives raised concern over funds and procurement of material to handle solid waste. Lobo assured that the government will simplify procedure for buying of vehicles, bins, tanks for 27 panchayats and that they will hold a meeting with the Chief Minister and request him to issue directions to purchase material from solid waste management.
During the meeting, Saligao sarpanch Shraddha Borkar raised concern over the difficulty faced by the villagers and requested Lobo not to go ahead with plant expansion as villagers are opposing it. Lobo assured that if any complaint is received from schools then he would personally visit and see to it that corrective measures are taken.
He also clarified that, “This plant will cater to only 27 panchayats even after expansion as off season the plant is getting around 100 – 140 tonne waste which increases to around 200 tonne during the season. Hence we are planning to take up expansion of the plant wherein existing machinery will be replaced with bigger machinery for which we have got all clearance and waste from no other panchayat will be added.”