BSG raises objection to CCP’s garbage management site

The Botanical Society of Goa (BSG) has stepped into the controversy about the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP)’s garbage treatment plant in an area originally marked as No Development Zone in the outline plan or ODP 2011,

placing its objections alongside NGOs like Goa Bachao Abhiyan and prominent citizens like Dr Oscar Rebello.
BSG, in its objection, argued that the present site is presently a mangrove forest adjoining salt pans along the Ponte de Linhares causeway linking Panaji to Ribandar. It touches both the existing road and the proposed road.
Pointing out that the salt pans are rain holding areas during the high tide in the monsoon period and “filling of such low lying land will aggravate the flooding of Panaji town by increasing the rainwater inflow of water into the Mandovi river/estuary,” BSG also warned that the site is close to Heera Petrol Pump and inflammable gas methane can be a fire hazard during hot summer months.
This point has also been brought out by Dr Sabina Martins who had earlier pointed out and again reiterated that  garbage areas especially dumps produce methane which is a combustible gas.
“It catches fire spontaneously when it reaches its ignition temperature. We have seen this happening in the garbage dumps at Sonsoddo, Parade grounds in Campal, Taleigao garbage dump,” she said adding that the CCP’s garbage treatment plant is proposed behind Heera Petrol pump, which has underground petrol /diesel storage tanks. Besides petrol and diesel is continuously being dispensed there with high percentage of the vapour in the vicinity.
Her objection argued that should a spontaneous fire occur at the garbage dump, burning particulate matter will be in the air which could ignite the inflammable substances in the petrol pump and lead to a major disaster.
“We have the instance of the fire at a Mapusa petrol pump to understand the serious consequences,” she argued.
Another of her objections was that the leachate tank in a mangrove area which is close to water bodies. “The soil is porous and these water bodies are also linked to the Mandovi river. The leachate will contaminate the water bodies near it as well as increase the pollution of Mandovi river.  Polluting water bodies causes great environmental harm,”  she  said reminding that cleaning and regenerating a river is not an easy task as we all know about the state of Ganga and Yammuna river cleaning process.
All mangrove species in Goa have been declared as protected.
BSG has also pointed out that the Regional Plan for Goa 2021  clearly demarcates water bodies, salt pans, khazan and low lying paddy fields as eco sensitive zones and suggested that the parade ground, old Campal football stadium or the forest nursery could be considered alternate sites with provision of parking on the open terrace.
These sites are larger than the present site which is at the entrance of the city near the proposed flyover connecting the bridges across the Mandovi to the NH17 bypass to Bambolim and the NH 4 bypass old Goa, Secretary of the BSG, Mr Miguel Braganza told media.
“The GBA is aghast at the reports that a local self-government body like the Corporation of the City of Panaji has planned to set up a hi-tech garbage treatment plant in an area already marked as “No Development Area” or NDA in the Outline Development Plan (ODP 2011) prepared for the city by the North Goa PDA and notified by the Government of Goa. The conversion of this land to a “development area” can only be done by the NGPDA or by the State Committee set up under the controversial amendments to Section 16 & 16A,” begins  the official objection by the GBA to the TCP.
Stating that it is pertinent to note that the survey numbers 25, 26 and 57 of Panaji (in the erstwhile ward of Morombi ward of Merces village) now apparently given chalta number 6 in one case near the Heera petrol pump opposite the Kadamba  inter-state bus stand are currently mangrove forest and were earlier salt pans locally known as “agor”, GBA pointed out  that the member-secretary of the NGPDA, Mr Ashok Kumar, is reported to have filed a FIR dated September 20, 2010 with the Panaji town police against unknown persons for filling the said salt-pans in survey no 26 and 57 of Panaji city area. The Panaji town police duly investigated the case over the next eleven months and then closed the file on August 25, 2011, as
“A Final.”
The order no 29/8/TCP/2012-13/RPG-21/Status/1803 dated  June 4, 2012, issued by the Chief Town Planner on the written instructions of the Chief Minister clearly and unambiguously states thus: “c) Land use contrary to RPG-2021 shall not be permitted”. The RPG-2021 clearly states the guidelines for ESZ protection and “water bodies, khazans and low lying paddy fields” are classified as ESZ-1 i.e. very Eco-Sensitive Zones, which the ODP 2011 of Panaji classifies as “NDA” in this case. [NT]