The Margao municipal council (MMC) took over the Sonsoddo
waste treatment plant on Thursday from Soceidade de Fomento, the
company that was operating the plant since the last
Fomento officials had written to the MMC expressing their will to hand over the waste treatment plant to the civic body after withdrawing an application that was filed in the sessions court in the case of Fomento versus MMC under section 9 of the Municipal Act.
The court had accepted the prayer of MMC that Fomento should operate the plant till February 20 and accordingly an order was issued.
“We have made a list of the inventory and noted other minute details with regard to the Sonsoddo waste treatment plant while taking over the plant on Thursday evening. There are several items found to be corroded at the site,” said MMC engineer Diniz D’Mello. He said the signature of a Fomento official has been obtained approving the inventory review undertaken by the MMC. Chief officer of MMC Ajit Panchwadkar could not be contacted for further details.
Sources said that the focus will now be on the High Power Coordination Committee (HPCC) meeting, scheduled to be held in Panaji on Friday. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who is the head of the HPCC, which was formed to decide on the Sonsoddo issues, is likely to hold discussion with the officials concerned in order to resolve the waste treatment plant issue. Sources also said that the government is likely to ask the Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC) to take control of the plant.
The MMC engineers and other staff members visited the Sonsoddo site on Thursday and checked the plant, shed and the other equipment.
According to sources, the waste generated in the MMC areas was not treated at the Sonsoddo plant on Thursday. It is understood that the MMC has decided to get the work done by temporarily engaging MMC staff from Friday onwards for a few days.
It may be noted that the MMC had signed an agreement with Fomento to operate the plant after segregating the waste and in 2011, it was agreed to pay Fomento nearly Rs 8 crore. However, in 2016, as per the new rules, the waste had to be segregated by the MMC and then handed over to Fomento. It was at this point of time that the blame game started. While Fomento claimed that the MMC did not pay them as assured in the agreement, MMC, on the other hand, alleged that there was no waste treatment being undertaken at the plant and that the waste sent daily by the civic body was being dumped directly on the old dump.
Finally, Fomento sent a notice to the MMC mentioning termination of the contract, as they were not paid regularly. The notice also mentioned the arbitrary application claiming Rs 14 crore.
Till date, the MMC has paid Rs 4.23 crore to Fomento (in instalments as per the agreement), Rs 1.79 crore (Rs one lakh paid daily for the services Fomento provided to MMC – treating the waste post service termination period from August 8, 2019) and Rs 1.4 crore (deposited in the court as ten per cent of the amount of Rs 14 crore as claimed by Fomento).