As I walked down the beautiful and quaint main street of Edinburgh in Scotland, my host told me a story. Apparently in the days gone by, this street was filthy. At a certain time everyday, pedestrians had to seek shelter under covered footpaths. Once the word “Gardyloo” was shouted the residents of the upper stories would empty their chamber pots on the street below from the window.
I could not imagine how filthy the street would have been if residents emptied their chamber pots day in and day out. Yet as we walked towards the Queen’s Castle down the road, the street was pristine, a model street by any standard. This background makes me believe that Goa can be a clean State and not just have one clean street or beach. We have never seen streets or areas where chamber pots are emptied daily. If, Goans decide to make Goa clean the journey would a much shorter one.
One of the areas frequented by locals and tourists, is the beach. Walking in the morning from Colva to Sernabatim is pleasant, as long as you keep your nose in the air. If by chance you look down, the broken bottles, yes broken liquor bottles, the ice cream cups, chip packets, paper plates etc., will flood your vision. Alas, you have to look down because of dog poo and aggressive dogs themselves.
If you look straight ahead, you will notice that there are no dustbins anywhere in sight. At Benaulim there is an apology for a dustbin, a concrete ring half submerged in the sand. The previous Government had some agency to clean the beaches, but going by their track record, the agency must have been a front to clean the treasury. The first thing that is needed is a set of bins, where garbage is not only collected but also segregated. This should be at very close distances so that no one has to walk too much to dump their garbage and also more bins will allow for more time between collections/clearances. This has to be backed with a mechanised collection system. A proper vehicle with the right implements to help empty the bins without spilling the contents. One vehicle can patrol the entire span of connected beaches. The collected garbage can be collected at central points and sent for recycling immediately or for incineration.
The dogs can be spayed regularly and with food source removed the population and therefore the poo will decline along with incidents of dog bites. The beach cleaning can be entrusted ‘Drishti’ which is doing a good job saving lives on our beaches. They can have two roles, Baywatch and Beach Watch. A system of bins to segregate and clearance system has to be put in place in every panchayat or municipality. The concept of binless city is a joke. Where will visitors throw their garbage? This does not stop door to door collection of segregated garbage. It will also address the issue faced by those living in the Panchayat areas. The vigilance shown by youth in Benaulim is commendable as their actions force people to think before throwing the ‘poti’. By being vigilant, the Benaulim youth are educating the people. Councillor Pinto used to go through garbage to find a clue that lead to the errant owner and you can be sure no one so caught would repeat the offence. Newspaper advertisements can be used to warn/educate people against throwing litter in an open space or behind the bush.
If we look around the thrash crowding the field is usually plastic bags, Bottles: PET and Glass, Tetra Packs, Chip/gutka packets etc. The Government should make it mandatory that manufacturers pay a cess for each product packed using the nuisance packaging, brought into the State or locally manufactured . This money should be used exclusively for garbage collection, across the State.
The manufacturers will then charge a deposit for each bottle or chip/tetra pack sold to a retailer. The retailer will charge the customer. Once the customer returns the empty he can redeem his deposit from the seller. There can be collection centres which will refund say 80% and keep the balance as service charge. Once the retailer or collection agent hands over the empty to the manufacturer he will get his original deposit back. This way there is no compulsion to return the empty to only the person you brought it from. So it will be easier to administer and more products can be added. If a manufacturer sells his products without collecting the deposit he will lose, as he will still have to pay when he receives the empties. Anyone who collects the empties will be able to redeem them for the deposit value.
The retailers will now have a heightened awareness about recycling and can now be pushed to control or eliminate the use of plastic bags at least at their shop.
This multilevel attack, where the user has an opportunity given to “BIN” it after segregation and collection of this segregated garbage and on the other had the creator of the garbage is identified and held accountable financially, will help stem the flow of uncontrolled garbage choking the State.
The CM has assured action and hopefully he will push the relevant people to take steps to ensure long term benefits. However if each of us does not think “CLEAN GOA”, Goa will not be clean.
So while we wait for the Government to act, let each of us begin to try and keep our areas or homes clean.