Herald: It’s all going downhill… no surprises there

It’s all going downhill… no surprises there

10 Feb 2019 06:05am IST
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10 Feb 2019 06:05am IST
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Attempts to segregate waste collection in Margao have come a cropper thanks to the poor attitude of the sanitary workers and the door to door collectors. JULIO D’SILVA takes a close look at the factors that have contributed to this appalling state of affairs

Notwithstanding the concerted efforts of the councilors and the concerned engineers, segregated waste collection in Margao is not giving the desired results thanks to the negative attitude of the sanitary workers and the door to door collectors. This has resulted in Fomento Green also given up its mission of giving a clean Margao town to the people.

Margao Municipal Council Chairperson Dr Babita Prabhudessai said without people’s co-operation segregated waste collection is not possible and lamented that creating awareness amongst the people is delayed as the bins and publicity material has not yet arrived.

MMC has ordered 25,000 bins of 10 lts capacity to be distributed to each house which have not yet arrived nor have the over 1000 bins of 240 lts, 120 lts and 50 lts capacity have however arrived. The bigger bins are for the 651 housing societies identified to further segregate their dry waste into paper and cardboard in one, plastic in another and metal and glass in third while the fourth bin will be kept to collect the wet waste.

She also blamed the “dark spots” identified by the council where people from neighbouring villages dump their waste and over which the council has no control. In fact, this waste from the dark spots is presently supplied to Fomento Green over which they are quite upset.

The council has started segregated waste collection earnestly in 10 wards of the Fatorda area and this has resulted in the amount of garbage going to Sonsodo reducing significantly. “From the around 72 tonnes of waste that used to be sent daily we are now sending only around 56 tonnes of waste to Sonsodo,” said Dr Babita.

She said the segregated dry waste is directly sent to the baling unit managed by the council workers at Sonsodo, where presently 20 labourers are employed to manage the two baling machines where truck loads of baled waste is ready to be transported.

Admitting that Fomento Green has issues, she said these pertain mainly to the nonpayment of the prescribed fees the council was supposed to pay them. While assuring that the council will take a call on the Fomento Green issue she said segregating waste was of paramount importance.

It would be pertinent to point out that Dr Babita received quite a bit of flak for paying Fomento Green Rs. 2.4 crore last year as the payment was made before the minutes of the council meeting where it was decided to make the payment were confirmed.

The 25 wards of MMC have been divided into 5 zones with each zone given a specific colour and the garbage from the zone will be picked up with the same coloured vehicle. Workers have been assigned to each ward and they will carry a badge along with a number so that it become easy to identify where the waste has come from.

“If there is mixed waste coming by looking at the vehicle we shall know from where it has come and accordingly take corrective measures,” said Gaurav Pokle who is assisting MMC in the garbage management.

As per the MMC plan, in the morning till around 11 am the waste dumped by the neighbouring villagers at the 37 hot spots identified will be collected and once this is taken to Sonsoddo the collection of waste from house hold will commence.

“The dry and wet waste will be transported separately and that is why the colour code is introduced to identify from where mixed waste is coming,” said Dr Babita while appealing to the people to co-operate.

Interestingly while segregated waste collection has commenced in some wards of the city in others it is yet to start because of problems with the workers or supervisors. Sirvodem is one ward where segregated waste collection is not done and it is not even attempted in the slums of Monte Dongor as awareness has not been carried out there.

Dr Babita proposes to get the Rotary Club and NSS students involved in creating awareness amongst the people and has high hopes in the pamphlets that will be distributed to each household in teaching the people how to segregate waste.

Fomento Green

According to Shalom Sardinha the project Engineer of Fomento Green, the Margao Municipal Council was supposed to pay them Rs. 5.2 crore as on 12th December 2012 when the plant was started and this amount was supposed to be paid in installments of Rs. 1.3 crore at a time.

However, till date MMC has paid Fomento Green only Rs. 3.7 crore of which Rs. 1.3 crore was paid in March 2013 and the balance Rs. 2.4 crore was paid only when the company raised a dispute before the Dispute Redressal Committee.

“Our chairman had taken up this project because his mother was the next-door neighbor to the Sonsoddo dumpyard and he personally experienced the hardships faced by the people due to the stink,” said Shalom while pointing out that that Audhoot Timblo has gone out of his way in investing in this project.

Besides the Rs. 18 crore that was invested in setting up the plant and the land fill dump yard, around Rs. 7 crore additional has been spent by way of salaries to the staff and on other aspects of running and maintaining the plant.

Fomento Green’s main concern is that they are still not getting segregated waste. “Although the council claims to have started segregating waste in seven wards, we unfortunately continue to get mixed waste because the segregated waste is not transported in a segregated manner,” said Shalom.

According to Shalom every day around 60 manhours are wasted only on segregating the waste that also includes bio medical waste, which they are not supposed to deal with.

Savio Coutinho

According to former Chairperson of Margao Municipal Council Savio Coutinho, the council is not at all serious about garbage management. “They are supposed to have a waste management cell. Has anybody heard about this cell or has it ever met?” he asked.

Besides he says contrary to the claim that MMC has collected the data like number of households and the amount of waste generated in their locality, only 10 of the 25 councilors have given some sketchy information only about number of households.

“The Chairperson Dr Babita Prabhudessai is only making announcements but there is nothing happening at the ground level,” he said while demanding that the council make public the so-called information they have gathered.

Savio also objected to using compactor to collect wet waste and pointed out that when the waste is compressed the moisture is squeezed out and falls on the road instead of being used for the decomposition process.

“The problem is that because the loyal tax payer pays his taxes including the sanitation fee, the council has funds which are being used on wasteful expenditure without any proper planning through dubious schemes which are making wealth out of waste for the select few,” he said referring to the AC dustbin room, sub standard tarpaulin to cover Sonsodo dump yard and engaging dubious agencies to collect waste.

“While the Bapu Environmental Social Service’s fraudulent billing to the council was taken note of even by the Directorate of Municipal Administration which ultimately led to terminating the agreement, the council has now appointed another self-help group and even agreed to pay the GST of 18 per cent for this self help group and we would like the DMA to look into this matter too,” said Savio.

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