ROQUE DIAS | NT
The action plan report prepared by the River Rejuvenation Committee (RCC), which was constituted by the state government as per the September 20, 2018, order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has suggested various strategies roughly proposing to spend Rs 42.37 crore on how to clean up the highly polluted River Sal in Salcete taluka.
It also states that the ongoing works of sewerage system – north and south mains – together worth Rs 370 crore, which will be completed in the next two years, will help in stopping the discharge of sewage into the River Sal.
River Sal originates in Verna and flows into the Arabian Sea at Betul, travelling roughly around 40 kilometres. The river has a highly polluted stretch of 22 km with mostly sewage discharge and solid waste dumped into the river. This river has a nearly 14-km stretch affected by tides, while 8-km stretch of the river is not affected by the tides.
“The main cause of concern is the high level of faecal coliform. The pollution is mostly due to the urbanisation on the banks of the river and the inefficient collection and treatment mechanism of sewage and solid waste,” the reports states. The Central Pollution Control Board has categorised the River Sal stretch from Khareband to Mobor as the most polluted.
Though the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) monitors the water quality throughout the year, the ground report prepared by the RCC suggests that the water quality of River Sal is presently not meeting the standard for bathing and, therefore, the RCC, which is monitored by the Chief Secretary, as demanded by the NGT, has a difficult task on hand to adopt measures to minimise the high level of faecal coliform and make the river fit at least for bathing purpose. Though seasonal variation of faecal coliform is observed, it is seen more at the Khareband areas.
The RCC is headed by Secretary Environment and comprises of director of Urban Development, director of Environment, director of Industries, member secretary of GSPCB, chief engineer of water resource department, director of health services and MD of Sewerage & Infrastructural Development Corporation of Goa Ltd (SIDCGL).
The action plan for River Sal, prepared by a Pune-based company -Unity I E World Pvt Ltd – is based on sampling analysis, site survey and observation and the strategies have been classified on the basis of the existing proposal in place. The action plan has also recommended up-gradation of the proposal to achieve the desired objective on short term and long term basis.
The action plan has suggested natural treatment wherein SIBF/ phytorid beds will be installed within 18 months along the banks of River Sal in order to avoid the pollution at Khareband, Sirvodem, Sirlim, Telaulim and Kankanmoddi (Cuncolim) areas by spending Rs 9.8 crore, as the tributary areas were not covered with the earlier works.
An amount of Rs 4.25 crore will be spent on improvement and up-gradation of the existing solid waste management facilities including the collection system, composting facilities and erection of material recovery facilities and storage shed for non-biodegradable waste at Sonsoddo, Margao and Cuncolim municipal areas and at Benaulim, Navelim, Telaulim, Varca, Orlim, Carmona, Assolna, Cavelossim, Velim and Mobor panchayat areas from where the River Sal flows.
It has also been strategised to undertake de-weeding at eight places proposing to spend Rs 2.60 crore and Rs 25.12 crore for recycling and reuse of the treated sewage from the sewerage treatment plant at Navelim for flushing and maintaining e-flow during the dry season.
It has also been planned to install dissolved oxygen (DO) content control measures at two places between Khareband and Navelim within six months. These works will be executed through the various agencies within 20-24 months.
Besides this, the ongoing Rs 87-crore works of the north trunk main of underground sewerage system at Navelim areas will also help stop the disposal of untreated domestic sewage in River Sal, the action plan states. The action plan also states that though the south trunk main underground sewerage system has been completed, the urban local body, health department and SIDCGL together will take appropriate action to ensure connections of all the houses and residential complexes in the next six months.
The action plan report states that the sewage treatment facilities at Margao, Navelim and surrounding areas are in operation and meet the standards mentioned as per the report of the GSPCB and that the treated waste is being discharged into the river at natural outfall. But the natural outfall from Navelim town is polluted due to the sewage discharge. This will be resolved once the sewerage system works worth Rs 283 crore for Navelim are completed in the next two years.
The action plan further mentions that the fisheries department has proposed 50-seater toilet blocks with sewage treatment plant at the Cutbona jetty for fishermen within six months by spending Rs 59 lakh. The semi-urban village panchayats along the river bank will install and make operational composting facilities in six months with an estimated cost of Rs 3 crore.