Calangute MLA Michael Lobo has been entrusted the task of cleaning up Goa. As he took charge of the newly created waste management ministry, Lobo lists his plans for a garbage-free Goa to Murari Shetye
TOI: The HC has directed to make Saligao waste treatment plant operational at 20% enhanced capacity (250 tonne per day) within a period of 16 months. How challenging is this for you?
ML: It is not challenging. We can increase the capacity, but we have to assure the people that the Bainguinim garbage treatment plant will also come up. They are worried that the Saligao plant may be the only one. A plant at Bainguinim is the needed for six constituencies, including five from Tiswadi and a part of Ponda constituency. We have to see to it that on July 28 (public hearing), people come out and give the green signal to set up a garbage plant at Bainguinim. The HC has also said the Cacora, Bainguinim, and Verna plants should be completed within 28 months.
TOI: Will the government be able meet the deadline?
ML: All procedures to set up the Cacora facility have been taken care of—environment impact assessment has been done, work order has been issued and only the agreement remains to be signed. The public hearing for the Bainguinim plant is scheduled for July 28. Verna will take time because the land is yet to be identified. There is space in the industrial estate, but we want at least 1 lakh sqm.
TOI: How are you going to tackle the Sonsoddo issue?
ML: Sonsoddo must become green again. Plastic waste will be baled and wet waste will be treated as manure. Before taking a decision, I will take the Margao Municipal Council, Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai and Margao MLA Digambar Kamat into confidence.
TOI: Segregation of waste at source is a big issue, how are you looking at it?
ML: Several panchayats have done it. If they can do it, why can’t other panchayats or municipalities? The important thing is to impose fine on those who hand over mixed waste or litter. The minimum fine for an individual will be Rs 500, while for commercial waste it will be Rs 5,000 and this can go higher. We will impose fine in the North Goa coastal belt and the secretary will have to handle it. He must put his members on the job. When they find a garbage litter and a pointer to the source, say a hotel bill, it will be fined accordingly. For the first offence it will be Rs 5,000, then Rs 10,000 and it will go up to Rs 20,000. We have to match European standards in terms of segregation of waste and penalties.
TOI: Single-use plastic is a big menace in the state. Will you ban it and when?
ML: 100%. Single-use plastic should not be there at all. These bags are available in fish and vegetable markets. Eco-friendly bags are the solution. Give us two months. Let us first bring in an alternative and then ban it. Initially, people may make noise, but we are doing it for their good. I’m very happy that media, especially The Times of India, and others are taking up this issue.
TOI: When will Goa as a garbage-free state be a reality?
ML: Cacora and Bainguinim plants are key to making Goa garbage-free. Each of the treatment facilities—Cacora, Bainguinim and Saligao—will handle 250-tonne garbage per day. That will take care of 80% of the waste. After that we require one more in the north. Once that is done, we can say Goa is 100% garbage-free.
TOI: Will you also bring beach cleaning under the waste management ministry?
ML: When you create a waste management ministrychief minister, tourism minister and GDTC chairman will agree—everything related to garbage should be under one roof. So, if there is a beach cleaning tender, it will be done by Goa Solid Waste Management Corporation with tourism minister and GTDC chairman on board.