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Garbage bonfires compromise state’s air water

Garbage bonfires compromise state’s air water

14 Feb 2018 No comment 6 hits

Panaji: For every household, shop, bank and other business or commercial establishment handing over dry waste to garbage collectors, there are many which simply resort to burning it as a means of disposal.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered a complete ban on burning of waste in open places, imposing a fine of Rs 25,000 on each incident of bulk waste burning. “For each such incident, violators, including project proponent, concessionaire, any person or body responsible for such burning, shall be liable to pay environmental compensation of Rs 5,000 in case of simple burning,” the NGT stated in its order.

But bonfires are ritualistically lit across Goa by thousands of households, most village shops, hundreds of offices, business establishments and others, as lack of accountability, enforcement and other factors contribute to a hazardous disposal method. Local self-governing bodies, municipal councils and panchayats, and their employees use it as a quick-fire solution to reduce waste, blatantly flouting the ban.

“Everywhere one can see shopkeepers burn it (garbage) at opening or closing time. Civic workers are provided matchboxes by their supervisors to reduce waste,” said activist Prashant Maurya.

The telltale signs of burnt heaps of plastic waste can be easily seen outside shops in villages, urban areas and junctions. “The areas from Margao railway station towards Davorlim, Ana Fonte and near Hospicio are places where one can see civic workers burning waste,” said Maurya.

Betalbatim resident George Dirk said, “Everywhere in the neighbourhood we can see people making small heaps of weeds, plants and some plastic and burning it. The beach is relatively clean, but the sand dunes, vegetation are full of plastic.”

Like Dirk, activist Custodio Barreto has been complaining to authorities about the unscientific practices. “The municipal authorities don’t take cognisance of complaints and only keep passing the buck lower down when approached,” Barreto said.

Citizens elsewhere have also been agitated over the crude disposal methods. Arturo D’Souza of St Cruz and Raj Vaidya, from Panaji, complained to Goa state pollution control board (GSPCB) against the St Cruz panchayat and Mapusa municipal council for openly burning their waste. The board slapped both bodies with fines of Rs 25,000, each, after confirming the routine burning of dry waste.

“But the problem has many aspects. Plastic below 50 microns, which has no recyclable value, is more often burned by panchayats. Authorities need to tighten up on recovery of fines and impose heavy penalties as a means of deterrence,” D’Souza said.

Maurya, who has been petitioning authorities about the burning of waste for nearly a decade, bemoans that health hazards are crassly ignored. “The burning reduces the volume of waste, but it is not realised that pollution-related diseases like cancer are increasing. Burning results in pollution of air, water and soil,” he said.

A GSPCB official conceded that garbage burning menace is rampant across Goa. “We don’t have enough manpower and field workers to tackle the menace,” the official said.


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Source: Garbage bonfires compromise state’s air water

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