No public cooperation for waste management devoid of norms
ON Sunday, several agitated residents of Saligao prevented 14 trucks loaded with wet garbage from entering the solid waste treatment plant located in the village, alleging that the plant was not following the norms laid down for waste transportation and carrying waste in open trucks without leachate trays, spilling waste and leachate. They had aired their grievance and were hoping that the plant management would take remedial measures, but when they did not they came out on the road and stopped the waste transporting trucks. Why do government organizations act unwisely when they know that a waste treatment plant is unacceptable in most of the places in Goa? Why were they treating the grievances of the residents of Saligao with indifference when the village has been generous and conscientious enough to allow the location of the solid waste treatment plant? Is this how the government repays public cooperation on projects of social importance?
If the residents of Saligao had opposed expansion of the waste treatment plant they had a reason. The plant management proved their fears right when they started transporting waste in open trucks without leachate trays. The people of Saligao could hardly be blamed for stopping the trucks going to the plant. If waste management comes to mean waste spilling through the streets of the village, they have a right to put an end to it. It has to be remembered that spillage of solid waste and leachate is witnessed all over the state. Collection and transportation of solid waste is haphazard across the state, with a substantial amount of it being spilled as it is loaded onto trucks. The employees of local bodies tasked with the collection of waste do not bother to collect the spilled waste and leachate. The spilled waste and leachate, besides being an eyesore, degrade the environment, breed mosquitoes, flies and rats and cause accidents as they create slippery conditions. Though the situation is known to all concerned hardly anything has been done to contain the hazards.
It is not only the vehicles carrying solid waste that degrade the environment and add to causes of spread of diseases and accidents but even the vehicles carrying sand, cement, coal, mineral ore, construction materials and construction debris do. There are rules laid down for the vehicles to follow, but they are hardly followed, and what is worse, the regulatory authorities always find excuses in poor equipment or resources for not forcing the transporters to adhere to norms. It was such indifference that has triggered public anger in Saligao, and before that it did in places where transportation of other materials caused nuisance, pollution and stench. The outburst of people’s anger at Saligao should be taken as a warning by the government. The government must compel its law enforcement officials to discharge their duties with dedication. With environment degradation on the rise and pollution levels rising in the state, the regulatory bodies have to do their duty honestly and unsparingly. The campaign against those violating the norms on materials and waste transportation should be relentless if the government wants to keep getting public cooperation for the same.
Solid waste management has been a problem-ridden issue for local bodies and the government. They should evolve a system that would meet the challenges posed by increasing volumes of waste generation and the reluctance of people in most places to allow location of a waste treatment facility. If the government wants to take people along on the road to a proper waste treatment regime they have to create models that do not leave any room for local people to turn against them. If that happens, people in other places would not allow sites for a new waste treatment plant on the ground that the people of the villages where the other treatment facilities were set up had not been treated decently. The government has, first and foremost, the task of spreading awareness among people to reduce solid waste generation by reuse and recycling. Then they have to be persuaded to allow waste treatment facilities to be set up. But that would not happen without setting up a waste collection and transportation system that does not make people’s daily life hellish.