29 Feb 2024  |   06:00am IST

Reduce & reuse only solution to waste management

On February 28, every year India celebrates National Science Day and the theme for this year was ‘Indigenous Technology for Viksit Bharat’. The objective of observing National Science Day is to promote scientific thinking and highlight the importance of science in everyday life. 

School students until the turn of the century, when information technology had not swamped the education sector, were abreast about everyday science in making life simpler. However, over the last two decades school students have been taught to look beyond the horizon and accomplish newer dimensions in life. The introduction of robotics has been a game changer and school students are now learning computing languages. But the progress has been aloof of the fundamental scientific temperament. On the eve of National Science Day, students of St Xavier’s College, Mapusa, through a radio programme reiterated that while Science can and has made tremendous progress, the most fundamental way to tackle the problem of garbage and waste management is to ‘reduce and reuse’. Until a decade ago, students would be taught to create ‘wealth out of waste’. One of the objectives was to teach to reuse materials available within the confinement of home and school to create a whole new product. But the present lifestyle has meant that every household creates more garbage then the products used. Plastic ban has practically not discouraged people from using more. On the contrary, the specifications on the type of plastic ban have meant that newer products to fit in the technical specifications have been introduced in the markets. While these products may seem to make life simpler in day-to-day affairs, the long-term impacts on the environment and human life could be disastrous. 

Garbage disposal and waste management is a global problem today and every nation is trying to experiment with new technology to be able to take care of the large-scale waste generated every single day. Goa’s tryst with the garbage menace is nearly two decades old, which began with the Sonsoddo garbage dump site. Ever since, there have been many ‘Sonsoddos’ across the State and there is not a single month in a calendar when Goans have not risen against the blackspots in their villages and municipal wards. 

Sonsoddo signifies the challenges of garbage menace across the State and the collapse of the governance at the local bodies, which have failed to address the issue and are found clueless about any foreseeable credible solution. Goa is perhaps the only State in the country with a dedicated Waste Management Ministry, and then local apparatus for ensuring that the garbage menace is taken care. Despite the onus placed by the Central government through the Swachchta Mission, the triple engines of development have failed Margao miserably. The High Court of Bombay at Goa has time and again issued directions for better management and handling of the garbage issue, Sonsoddo in particular. 

The latest addition to the chaos has been waste from poultry slaughterhouses and shops, which has become a major nuisance across the State and particularly in Salcete. The bypass roads have become the most suitable spots for random disposal of this waste, making travel on these roads a nightmare. Stray dogs scavenging on this waste adds to the problems further.

On the other hand, a walk on the promenade along the DB Road in Panjim will expose the realities of the Mandovi River. There was a time when swimming enthusiasts would create records by swimming across the river, however, that has stopped and the stench from the river is enough to deduce that it is being polluted every passing day. The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has in the recent past revealed that the rivers in Goa are polluted. Mandovi river deposits garbage everyday on its banks alongwith discarded plastic as well as beer bottles thrown into the river by tourists as well as locals. 

The theme of this year’s National Science Day, ‘Indigenous Technology for Viksit Bharat’, should further impress upon teaching students to resolve everyday problems. While doing so, there is a need to ensure that future politicians, administrators, scientists and adult citizens remain more concerned about the environment. There has to be a concerted effort to popularising the fact that the garbage menace can only be resolved with the mantra of ‘reduce and reuse’.


Iddhar Udhar