What a waste

The City Cor­po­ra­tion of Panaji wants to dis­con­tinue the de­cen­tralised waste man­age­ment sys­tem that helped it be­come a bin-free city


Panaji's mu­nic­i­pal­ity wants to dis­con­tinue its waste man­ag­ment sys­tem that had helped it be­come clean

PANAJI WAS once on track to be a model city. In 2003, the cap­i­tal city of Goa ex­per­i­mented with de­cen­tralised waste man­age­ment sys­tem. This segregation of waste at source helped it be­come a zero-land­fill, bin-free city within a decade. In 2016, Panaji re­ceived a Clean City Award by Delhi-based non-profit Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment (cse). But one year later, the city’s de­cen­tralised waste man­age­ment sys­tem is on the verge of col­lapse. What went wrong?

“Lack of ad­min­is­tra­tive will can cause even the most ef­fi­cient sys­tems to crash. The cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion is dis­in­clined to con­tinue with the de­cen­tralised waste man­age­ment. In­stead, it plans to build a cen­tralised waste man­age­ment fa­cil­ity on the out­skirts of the city,” says Swati Singh Sam­byal, pro­gramme man­ager at cse. As a re­sult, while the de­cen­tralised waste man­age­ment sys­tem is still in place, the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion’s ap­a­thy has made it in­ef­fi­cient.

A sys­tem dis­rupted

Un­der de­cen­tralised solid waste man­age­ment, Panaji’s 115 res­i­den­tial colonies are di­vided into 12 waste man­age­ment zones, each un­der a su­per­vi­sor, who man­ages col­lec­tion and trans­porta­tion of seg­re­gated waste. House­holds are re­quired to seg­re­gate waste into five frac­tions: wet waste, plas­tic, pa­per and card­board, metal and glass, and non-re­cy­clables. Wet waste is sent to 100 com­post­ing units in the city, while dry waste is sent to 12 sort­ing sta­tions (one in each zone) for fur­ther segregation. But when Down To Earth (dte) vis­ited Panaji in May, only seven dry waste sort­ing cen­tres and 50 wet com­post­ing sites were func­tional.

“One of the big­gest prob­lems for the cit­i­zens is the un­man­aged com­post­ing sites where wet waste is be­ing dumped. Most of th­ese sites are in res­i­den­tial ar­eas and stink,” says Norma Al­vares, a Panaji-based ad­vo­cate. “Hor­ti­cul­ture and other types of wastes are be­ing dumped in the open and re­main un­col­lected,” she adds. dte also wit­nessed

open dumps in sev­eral ar­eas of the city, such as Alt­inho, Nevgi Na­gar and Cala­por.

“We had plans to han­dover com­post­ing sites to res­i­dent wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tions or to non-prof­its for oper­a­tion and up­keep, but it did not ma­te­ri­alise,” says an of­fi­cial from the City Cor­po­ra­tion of Panaji (ccp) on con­di­tion of anonymity. “ccp is un­able to run com­post­ing sites and in many ar­eas th­ese sites are be­ing used as waste­bins,” says an­other of­fi­cial from the Goa Waste Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (gwmc), the apex body over­see­ing waste man­age­ment in the state. The wet waste from house­holds is also be­ing sent to bulk com­post­ing sites at Patto and Il­las in the city. Ear­lier only wet waste from ho­tels and eater­ies was sent there.

What’s worse, many house­holds and com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments have stopped seg­re­gat­ing waste be­cause in­spec­tions by ccp have re­duced. Ear­lier, house­holds were fined by ccp for giv­ing un­seg­re­gated waste. “If a mu­nic­i­pal worker re­fuses to col­lect un­seg­re­gated waste from the house­holds, the res­i­dents dump waste in the open. Col­lect­ing this waste from streets is a huge chal­lenge for ccp be­cause the sys­tem was de­vel­oped to han­dle seg­re­gated waste,” says Clive Paiva, city project as­so­ci­ate, ccp. Open dumps have also re­sulted in an in­crease in waste burn­ing.

“The cor­po­ra­tion has also not been able to keep pace with the grow­ing quan­tum of waste,” says a ccp san­i­ta­tion su­per­vi­sor, who also did not want to be named. The city pro­duces 80 tonnes of garbage a day, says the of­fi­cial, up from 55 kg in 2015. “It should have taken steps to im­prove the wastepro­cess­ing in­fras­truc­ture and in­crease the work­force to en­sure timely col­lec­tion of seg­re­gated garbage,” he adds.

The col­lec­tion sys­tem has also be­come weak due to short­age of mu­nic­i­pal staff. “Even if a few peo­ple go on leave, col­lec­tion be­comes a prob­lem,” says Paiva. “Staff short­age is be­com­ing more acute be­cause labour costs have gone up and ccp is not of­fer­ing ad­e­quate in­cen­tives. Even zonal su­per­vi­sors are not per­form­ing their du­ties and of­ten over­look burn­ing of waste burn­ing in their ar­eas,” he adds.

Stretched beyond ca­pac­ity

Panaji has two ma­te­rial re­cov­ery fa­cil­i­ties at Cam­pal and Pa­rade Ground that re­ceive waste from the city’s 12 waste man­age­ment zones. Th­ese fa­cil­i­ties are run­ning at full ca­pac­ity but are un­able to man­age the mixed waste they are be­ing sup­plied. “Ear­lier, we seg­re­gated dry waste into 30 frac­tions, but now seg­re­gate it into only seven-eight frac­tions,” said an em­ployee at the Cam­pal Ma­te­rial Re­cov­ery Fa­cil­ity. More­over, about 80 tonnes of san­i­tary or bio-med­i­cal waste is ly­ing at Cam­pal fa­cil­ity for the past one year. San­i­tary waste is col­lected by ccp from house­hold once a week. “We are clue­less about its dis­posal. There is a con­tract with a few hos­pi­tals to dis­pose it off in their bio­med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties, but they are not equipped to han­dle such huge amounts,” says a mu­nic­i­pal en­gi­neer from ccp.

San­i­ta­tion fee in­tact

Although there has been an clear de­cline in the waste man­age­ment sys­tem, ccp has con­tin­ued to charge its an­nual san­i­tary fee of R365 from house­holds and R300-10,000 from ho­tels. It is also still mak­ing money by sell­ing seg­re­gated waste to deal­ers (who buy re­cy­clables) and to ce­ment pro­cess­ing com­pa­nies in Kar­nataka (that buy non­re­cy­clables). There have been no bud­get cuts or short­age of funds. The cor­po­ra­tion’s ef­fi­ciency and ser­vices have just gone down.

Chi­tra Mukher­jee of Chin­tan En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search and Action Group, a Delhi based non-profit study­ing Goa’s waste man­age­ment sys­tem, says, “Though Panaji’s com­mu­nity en­gage­ment was good ear­lier, it also needs to be stepped up.” Agrees Sanjit Ro­drigues, for­mer com­mis­sioner of ccp, un­der whom the de­cen­tralised waste man­age­ment started. “Aware­ness cam­paigns helped us build the de­cen­tralised sys­tem. We need to work on the same lines again and cre­ate mini Pana­jis across Goa,” he says.

Many house­holds and com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments in Panaji have stopped seg­re­gat­ing waste be­cause in­spec­tions by of­fi­cials of the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion have re­duced. Ear­lier, de­fault­ers would be fined for giv­ing un­seg­re­gated waste

Only seven of Panaji's 12 dry waste sort­ing sta­tions were func­tional when Down To Earth vis­ited the city in May

About 80 tonnes of bio-med­i­cal waste is ly­ing at Panaji's Cam­pal Ma­te­rial Re­cov­ery Fa­cil­ity since 2016

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