Goa’s garbage issue will never be solved, if the people keep a closed mind to setting up waste management units in their villages. It is the people who create garbage. According to statistics, each person creates up to 600 grammes of garbage a day – it being higher in urban areas – and this garbage needs to be not just collected from the houses of the people, but thereafter treated. It cannot be just dumped someplace after collection. The people must appreciate the fact that garbage treatment does not end with collection from the house or from the neighbourhood waste bin. That is only the first step in the entire garbage management process.
The not in my backyard (NIMBY) syndrome that has been holding back the garbage management in the State needs to be resolved so that this issue can have a logical conclusion. Opposing any waste management project because it is within the jurisdiction of the village or town will only make it worse in the future as the accumulated garbage will lead to a much bigger problem that will have to be tackled. An example of how this can escalate is the growing mountain of garbage at Sonsoddo, Margao, which is defying all attempts to be cleared. We cannot allow another Sonsoddo type problem in the State.
The question that the people have to ask of themselves and answer is whether they want to create more such mountains of garbage or they want to have a landscape that is clean and beautiful. If it is the latter that is desired, than the mind has to be opened up to projects of garbage management that will not just sweep off the litter from the streets and collect the garbage from households, but also manage it so that it does not remain an eyesore in a dump. A clean neighbourhood road without a garbage management plan in place, results in a growing garbage mound elsewhere.
As of today, there are 100 village panchayats of the 191 in the State that are yet to identify land for segregation, storage and a waste treatment facility, forcing the government to work out a plan to set up a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) at the village and cluster level. Besides, some panchayats do not have sufficient funds to engage workers for door-to-door collection and transportation of the waste, which again will have to be offset by the government. Garbage management will never be a success unless there is participation from the community. The government will only be able to meet some of the requirements, the rest is up to the people.
Garbage management has, however, remained unresolved as there has been no government will to push it forward. If today government departments are pushing for setting up centres to deal with waste, it is only because there are directions from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that is monitoring the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Rules under Environment Protection Act. Goa has to respond to the tribunal on the action plan on April 10. It is for this reason that the government has proposed the plan for the Material Recovery Facility. Had there been no directions from the tribunal, this would probably remain unattended for longer.
With the election code of conduct now currently in place, there will be no decision taken by the government on this. The State will have to wait till the end of May or for early June before any progress is made on this, which gives panchayats time enough to sensitise the people in the villages to the need of garbage management. The question is whether the local governing bodies will take this up as a challenge, or they will merely let the opportunity slip through their fingers.