The findings from the site inspection of the Saligao garbage treatment plant do not make for great reading
he Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) was in receipt of complaints alleging that environment pollution is being caused due to the operation of the state-of-the-art solid waste management plant at Saligao.
Last year on October 26, the officials of the board conducted a site inspection at this plant that is being operated by Hindustan Waste Treatment Pvt Ltd (HWTPL) during which several irregularities were identified. The plant is located on the Saligao-Calangute plateau in an industrial area and is at a distance of 320 meters from the nearest school, residence, hospital or any prominent structure and 350 meters from the water body.
It was noticed the waste outside the plant has increased to 1,00,000 Metric Tons. When the plant commenced operations, the dump was only 50,000 Metric Tons and has now doubled which speaks volumes. It was also noticed the operator has started landfilling up to ground level height without keeping sufficient area for soil cover. The inert waste generated was also less than 10% and a dump of around 30,000 Metric Tons of RDF to be sent to cement plants.
As per consent condition No. 5 (5) the operator shall utilize the plant to process and treat fresh waste of 100 Tons in terms of Environmental Clearance granted, however as observed during the inspection and reports produced the plant is operating at 140 tons a day violating the consent condition. The unit has also installed a 100 KVA DG set without obtaining consent of the board and violating the consent condition. A 100 KLD ETP plant has been installed however the waste water generation is 130 KLD and hence the excess water is shifted through night soil tankers to STP Tonca for treatment thus violating the consent condition.
On May 3, 2018 GSPCB had granted Hindustan Waste Treatment Pvt Ltd a renewal of consent to operate under section 25/26 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and under section 31 (A) and under section 21 of the Air (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1981. For operation of an integrated Solid Waste Management facility comprising of manual/mechanised sorting, material recycling centre, organic extrusion press, bio-methanisation plant followed by a bio gas plant located at Survey No. 41/1 (P) of Calangute. This renewed consent to operate was also granted for remediation of existing wastes dumped at the site for 87.5 tons/day and for treatment of 100 tons/day. The permission from GSPCB is valid up to March 23, 2020.
The inspection report also stated that 27 village panchayats are disposing off solid waste at Hindustan Waste Treatment Pvt Ltd. The names of the villages include Mandrem, Morjim, Parcem, Querim-Tiracol, Arambol, Moira, Pomburpha, Ucassiam-Paliem-Punola, Guirim, Sangolda, Pilerne, Reis Magos, Saligao, Nerul, Candolim, Calangute, Arpora- Nagoa, Parra, Penha de Franca, Socorro, Salvador do Mundo, Anjuna, Verla Canca, Siolim-Marna, Siolim-Sodiem, Oxel and Assagao.
The Director of Directorate of Panchayats has been directed to ensure that the village panchayats comply with certain measures and also submit an action plan and time schedule in regards to the compliance with the directions.
Two weeks ago, the operator of Hindustan Waste Treatment Pvt Ltd at Saligao has been issued a show cause notice by the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for violation of terms in the contract. The management of the unit has been directed to show cause within a period of seven days from the date of receipt of this notice.
Failing to reply to the said notice will compel the board to initiate stringent action under the provisions of the Water (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1947 and Air (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1981 which will include issue of directions for closure of the facility or criminal prosecution without any further notice.
The Director of Goa Foundation and member of Saligao Civic and Consumer Cell, Dean D’Cruz has made several written complaints to the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) last year. His last complaint was made on November 8, 2018 alleging that environment pollution is being caused due to the operation of the Solid Waste Management Plant at Saligao. He highlighted about the illegal expansion of the dump outside the plant causing sever pollution and foul smell in the area forcing school and homes in the vicinity to close their windows.
As a member of the High Court appointed Monitoring Committee, Dean had been visiting the Saligao plant and found that it was not working as per the contracted agreement with the government.
“Four months back under RTI we had asked for details of the trucks coming in and out of the plant but despite several reminders they have failed to furnish the same. Neither have we received a copy of the minutes of the meeting held on October 25. It was decided at the meeting that a criminal complaint be filed for the illegal dumping of garbage outside the plant. The inaction is making us doubt the performance of the Hindustan Waste Management Plant and we may be compelled to take the matter to court again,” stated Dean.
“The garbage from Aradi, Candolim dump that has been shifted outside the compound of the treatment plant is stinking. Taking fresh garbage and putting it outside is a criminal act. The representative from the plant claims that it does not belong to them,” he added.
Under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 the Managing Director of Goa Waste Management Corporation is also directed to comply with the prescribed measures within the stipulated time period.