12 Apr 2024  |   05:06am IST

Disorderly garbage mismanagement choking Goa

Goa, once called Pearl of the Orient and appreciated for its beauty, can only reminisce this past glory which has become invisible at present. While tourists were attracted to Goa’s cleanliness, today they are avoiding it for the lack of it.

Squalor is rampant all over Goa in all forms. Leo Baekeland’s 1907 prediction that his discovery of plastic would revolutionise the world has come true and Goa is a classic example of its ill effect. Goenkar, probably due to the foreign earnings and influence, has adopted the ‘Use and Discard’ culture as plastic has become an integral part of our lifestyle.

Gone are the days when anything purchased would be wrapped in biodegradable leaves or paper. The ‘Clean and Reuse’ culture that was visible earlier in using napkins instead of diapers, or containers instead of plastic bags, has become extinct.

This has resulted in mountains of waste, and more alarmingly plastic waste, found in every nook and corner of the State. Undoubtedly, the government is largely responsible for this morass. Its sins of omission are many but we mention a few hoping some tangible action will be taken.

Although one-use plastic bags or disposable plastic bags are banned, they are found anywhere and everywhere, and no action is taken against vendors disbursing them nor people carrying them. Panchayats having weekly markets are the worst affected and they are handicapped as very often, the Secretary is not available to sign the receipt for fines levied.

Late Manohar Parrikar, with great fanfare had announced a scheme to provide garbage management grants to panchayats. In fact, panchayats were categorised like ‘weak’, ‘coastal’ and ‘high risk’ to determine the quantum of grants. Unfortunately, following Parrikar’s death, this scheme has remained only on paper as none of the panchayats receive the grants they are entitled; thus raising the question whether Parrikar’s goals are discarded by the present dispensation.

We the people of Goa are also to be blamed as we prefer ‘short cuts’. Littering is a habit for us and that is why plastic wrappers and bags are found thrown by the roadside. Most of them are empty packets of wafers, chips, etc. Students mostly consume these as they no longer carry a home-made snack as in the past. And the empty wrapper is thrown anywhere but in the dustbin. The irony is that no action is taken against people who litter the roadsides.

The government would do well to adopt what the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has done by appointing citizen wardens empowered to fine any person littering, including smokers who drop the cigarette butts on the road.

The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court was seized with the garbage menace, but what can the court do when false and misleading affidavits are deliberately filed only to hoodwink the learned Justices? 

At the grass root level, panchayats have to walk the talk on garbage, and more particularly on managing plastic waste. Practically, all panchayats in Goa do not follow the tenet ‘Reduce use of plastic’. Bouquets offered at panchayat functions are unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. Tea or coffee served at these functions is in plastic cups. So, where is the commitment to reduce the use of plastic?

Given the fact that it takes 500 years for one plastic bottle to decompose, it is high time every Goenkar stands up to stop the use of plastic. Are we Goenkars willing to walk the talk and take this small step to save and protect our mankulem but sobit Goem?


Idhar Udhar