The dream of being a garbage free state has been long standing but has not been achieved thanks to the manner in which decisions have been taken and more importantly a marked reluctance to get the people of Goa on board. This has resulted in a general sense of irritation leading to opposition whenever a project is announced. AVINASH TAVARES takes a look at the twists and turns when it comes to garbage management
in the state
ack in September 2018, when Manohar Parrikar was asked whether it is a fact that Goa has been declared as Garbage Free State, the CM replied “No”. However, he went on to state the State Government is aiming at Goa as a litter-free State. Herald Investigates the status of the two major treatment plants in Goa and the reasons for the failure of these plants in making Goa a garbage-free State
In January, the news of an IAS officer clearing 13 lakh tons of Garbage from 100 Acres garbage dump in just 6 months went viral on social media. The officer, Asheesh Singh was appointed as the Municipal Commissioner in may 2018. He decided not to outsource the treatment to any agency since it would cost around Rs 65 Crore. Instead the corporation purchased the required heavy machinery, and operated by utilising their own resources. By spending less than Rs 10 crore, the entire process was completed in just 6 months.
In Goa, there are two major garbage treatment plants, one in Margao and another in Saligao. While one has been a complete failure, the other has been overpriced and no less controversial. Both these plants cost more than Rs10 crore, the amount spent by the Indore Municipal Corporation. But unlike in Indore, both the plants in Goa are operated by private contractors and yet are unable to clear the garbage dumps outside their plant.
According to the Goa Waste Management Corporation the capacity of Saligao Solid Waste Management Facility is 100 tons per day. The plant design is based on 25% additional load over the design capacity of 100 tons/day. The average waste received per day from inception of the plant is 120.93 tons/day. The minimum guaranteed payment committed by the Government for this plant is Rs. 29.9 crores per annum for 10 years. The Government has also committed a Gross Annual Operational Support Grant of Rs. 70.005 Crores over 10 years. According to an LAQ reply Rs 33.865 Crore has been paid in 2016-17 and Rs 35 Crore has been paid in 2017-18. In addition, the government pays around Rs 75 lakh per annum for the transportation of RDF to cement plants.
Solid Waste Management facility at Saligao was authorised to handle waste collected and transported by only 27 Village Panchayats, Highway cleaning agency, Beach cleaning agency, School dry waste collection and Panchayat dry waste collection.
Parrikar had initially claimed that the plant was meant only for the coastal village. But since 2018, the garbage from Tiswadi and Salcete was brought in.
How much garbage is being processed?
There are many conflicting claims of the amount of garbage that is being treated at the Saligao plant. The plant was set up with the objective of treating 100 tons per day with a design capacity of 125 tons per day. In December 2017, Parrikar had announced that the capacity of the plant will be increased to 250 tons per day. However, sources said that the capacity has not increased but instead the files has been moved to the finance department for approval to sanction the amount to bring in the machinery to increase the capacity.
GSWM Director Michael Lobo in October 2017 stated solid waste management plant at Saligao will be increased from 125 tons to 200 tons per day. In October 2018, Goa Waste Management Corporation (GWMC) has written to the State government stating that the capacity of the Garbage Treatment Plant (GTP) at Saligao is 100 tons per day, which can be extended to a maximum of 125 tons. The GMWC Director Ganesh Kandaswami had even requested the government to restrict the dispatch of segregated garbage to 125 tons per day for the proper functioning of the plant. This was even reiterated in the meeting of the monitoring committee of the Saligao plant where the committee requested the Director of Department of Science and Technology to direct the Goa Waste management Corporation to reduce the incoming waste to the design capacity as stated in the tender document 1.e 100 tons per day on priority and furthermore should accept the waste from the areas as approved by the Government.
On 1st February 2019 he stated the plant handles 200 tons of waste per day. However, according to the monthly performance report till September 2018, the plant has been supplied with around 140-153 tons of waste per day (The government has stopped uploading the performance report on the website since July 2018)
It appears the Chief Minister and the MLA of Calangute have been misleading the public. Locals claim this is because the Government wanted the plant to serve all of north Goa but they tried to fool people by claiming the plant is meant only for coastal villages. “The staff of treatment company is going around in the villages of Pednem and Salcete urging people to send their waste to Saligao. We have to suffer the smell”, said a local.
No man's Dump outside the Plant
The Goa waste management corporation claimed in 12 September 2018 that they had completed the remediation of the entire waste present as on May 2017 inside the compound wall. They had raised an invoice for the remediation of the waste dumped outside the compound wall.
In the meeting of the steering committee held on September 25th 2018, the members had requested that GWMC should on priority undertake remediation of the waste dumped by the Village Panchayat of Candolim outside the boundaries of SWMF.
However, till today, the waste dump is still standing outside the compound wall. Locals have reported that waste continues to be dumped at night at the site outside the plant.
Sonsodo treatment plant is the biggest failure of the Goa government in the domain of garbage treatment. Many companies have attempted to clear the waste at Sonsodo. While Goa Foundation had achieved mild success, others ended in complete disaster.
In 2017, the government informed the Legislative assembly that the work of excavation and screening of the old existing dump was executed through Goa Solid Waste Management Corporation. Efforts are made to remove the entire dump under the guidance of Goa Solid Waste Management Corporation. Subsequently, the Municipality experimented with Bio-Remediation and Black Hole Technology. Both of which ended in failure.
Interestingly, the Swachh Bharat Mission scheme also provides financial assistance for solid waste management and IEC activities. Margao Municipal Council received grants for the year 2016-17 of Rs.1,10,00,000 and in 2017-18 of Rs.6,94,29,000 which were sanctioned under 14th finance Commission. However, in spite of these funds, the dump at sonsodo continues to increase in height while the leachate from the dump pollutes the low-lying paddy fields every monsoon.
In 2010, Margao Municipal Council (MMC) had issued invited bidders to set up the waste treatment facility and construct a land fill site at Sonsodo. Two firms had responded one of which was a consortium led by Fomento (Sociedade de Fomento Industrial Pvt Ltd).
Interestingly Fomento had no experience or expertise in managing a waste treatment plant. In spite of that, they managed to bag the contract by using the consortium route. Companies that have no experience and expertise enter into a consortium with other companies that have the requisite requirements to qualify for a tender. Usually, the experienced company is paid by the inexperienced company for entering into a consortium. The deal lasts till the tender is awarded. During bidding, the consortium has to enclose the documents which show their past experience/projects. These documents are entire of the experienced company. After the tender is awarded, the experienced company vanishes from the scene and the inexperienced company is left with implementing the project.
In this case, other consortium partners were IL&FS Waste Management and Urban Services Limited and M/s IL&FS Ecosmart Limited. After being awarded the contract, the MMC signed a concessionaire agreement with Fomento on 1/2/11. Interestingly, the Director of Fomento was the only signatory. The other two IL & FS consortium partners did not, directly or indirectly, enter into any agreement with MMC. There is no evidence in the records of MMC to show that IL & DS Waste Management and IL & FS Ecosmart had entered into any joint venture with Fomento or had agreed to be a part of the consortium to manage the Sonsodo treatment plant.
Fomento had claimed that IL&FS Eco-smart would provide environmental consultancy and project advisory support. Both these companies have not contributed, technically or otherwise, in any way in the management and operation of the waste treatment plant.
Fomento washed their hands off the old dump
According to the agreement with MMC, Fomento was responsible for screening and processing mixed garbage that arrives every day as well as that of the existing dump. Interestingly, after the consortium was signed, Fomento presented took possession of the Sossodo waste management site and passed the burden of the existing dump back on MMC. They did this by producing a report that showed the presence of heavy metals in the existing dump and refused to process the dump. However, till today, the government has not conducted any independent inquiry to investigate whether Formento reports were authentic.
However, even after four year later (in 2015 ) the government had no data of the quality that was segregated. The MMC did not even have details of the quantity of waste that was supplied by MMC to Fomento on a day to day bases between 2012 and May 2014.
Presently, no one is allowed to go inside the Sonsodo treatment plant to observe the operations. None of the stakeholders involved releasing any information about the amount of waste that arrives at the site or is processed by the plant.
The locals of the surrounding villages, especially Raia which bears the brunt of the stench and leachate flow, have been demanding that the plant accept waste from their villages. The Government, however, has maintained the status quo by covering up the problem under the metaphorical tarpaulin.
On 2nd September 2018 the Supreme Court had fined several States in India for not framing the Solid Waste Management Policy. The next day, Advocate General Dattaprasad Lawande had told Herald that the order is not applicable to Goa since the State has already formulated the solid waste management policy.
However, just a few days later on 20/7/18, the Government replied to an LAQ by the leader of the opposition, Chandrakant Kavalekar stating that “Goa Waste Management Corporation is in process of development of Solid Waste Management Policy for the State of Goa. M/s Infrastructure Development Corporation Karnataka(iDeCK) Limited is the consultant appointed and they are in a process of the survey through which they will draft Solid Waste Management Policy for the State of Goa, duly approved by Goa Waste Management Corporation, the same will be finalized by Government after due consideration”.
This implies that the Goa government had misled the Supreme Court. The contract for preparing the policy was awarded to iDeCK in March 2018. Unfortunately, till date, the draft policy is yet to be prepared and finalised.
Without the solid waste management policy and without officers as dedicated at Asheesh Singh, it is unlikely that Parrikar can ever achieve the vision of making Goa a garbage-free State.