Minister for Waste Management MICHAEL LOBO says that Goa can be ‘clean and green state’ in next three years. In an interview with SOIRU VELIP, he seeks people’s cooperation for launching ‘green Goa movement’
Q: You had raised your pitch against the garbage menace in the last few years. Your are now the Minister for Waste Management. How will you put an end to the problem?
Waste management is a big challenge. In the past, we saw people talking about tackling garbage issue; no politician took real interest in finding a solution to it. When I became an MLA I took up this issue with our former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who realised the seriousness of the menace. And we started working on a solution to solid waste. We identified communidade land at the Calangute-Saligao plateau for setting up a garbage treatment plant. Later, Parrikar sent a 38-member delegation to Austria, Italy and Germany to study waste treatment facilities there… we succeeded setting up the solid waste treatment facility at Saligao…
Q: What are your plans to tackle garbage or solid waste issue?
Garbage has been rising day by day in the state. Several public interest litigations were filed before the High Court on the garbage issue. Foreign tourists coming to Goa have started complaining about the garbage menace. As of now, we are concentrating on tackling wet garbage and dry waste generated by households, commercial establishments like hotels, restaurant etc. It is also important to treat biomedical waste, e-waste, hazardous waste… the government has planned to tackle that waste in a phased manner.
Q: As the Minister for Waste Management, have you set any deadline to put an end to the garbage issue? How long will it take to resolve the issue?
At present, we have the 125-tonne capacity solid waste treatment facility at Saligao. The work for setting up another plant at Cacora in Curchorem is in final stage, and the actual work should start in a month’s time. The process for setting up a plant at Baiguinim will take some five months. The government has plans to set up a waste management plant at Verna, a biomedical waste treatment plant at Kundai. We also want to set up a small plant at Sonsoddo in Margao. I feel that Goa can be ‘clean and green state’ in next three years… The government expects cooperation from the people of the state.
Q: There has been opposition from some people towards setting up of
garbage treatment plants. Residents of Old Goa have opposed the proposed plant at Baiguinim.
Initially, there was opposition to the solid waste
treatment plant at Saligao, but we succeeded in convincing the people. The
people who are opposed to everything must change their mindset… I want to ask
the residents of Old Goa: why do they shut their eyes to the piling garbage in
their surrounding areas? People throw garbage by the roadside, in the Mandovi
and on hills. I think that 30 per cent
of the garbage generated in Goa is thrown in rivers. Is this right?… Everybody
knows that garbage has become a big problem, and if we want to have a solution
to it then we must come together to launch ‘green Goa movement’… we do not just
treat garbage at the Saligao plant but generate green energy.
Similarly, we want to generate green energy or electricity out of waste at the proposed four plants… We seek cooperation from village panchayats, municipal bodies and the general public.
Q: You are seeking cooperation from village panchayats and urban bodies. But they come under separate departments. How will it work out ?
Village panchayats and municipal bodies should be monitoring agencies for this purpose. The fact is that they can only collect waste; they cannot set up treatment facilities on their own. Therefore, the department of waste management should be a facilitator for handling waste in the state. We have to adopt a particular model where the Goa Waste Management Corporation would provide two different dustbins for wet and dry garbage and trucks with total covering so that vehicles will not give out stench while transporting garbage. We will work together with panchayats and municipalities. Our engineers will guide municipal engineers.
Q: Plastic garbage is a big concern that needs to be tackled. Do you have any plan to deal with plastic garbage?
We spend a lot of money to transport plastic waste to Karnataka. Hence we are planning to get insulators to treat plastic garbage. In Singapore, electricity is produced out of plastic garbage. So, I will go to Singapore to study their technology.
Q: You had spoken about imposing fine on the people dumping garbage at open places. Is there any mechanism in place to act upon your suggestion?
Yes, people who throw garbage at open places must be fined. We will have to create mechanism for that. Panchayat secretaries, police inspectors, joint mamlatdars and engineers from different departments should be powered to impose fines on violators.