Hurdles crop up for plastic-free Merces


The plastic collection drive in Merces could well be a thing of the past, with several hurdles cropping up in the exercise.
The drive to collect plastic in the village was initiated by the Merces Vigilant Citizens Association (MVCA) in 2011, with the help of the panchayat and concerned citizens.
Over a year-and-half later, a financial crisis along with non-cooperation from the locals has forced MVCA to exit the scene and hand over the baton to the Adv. Atanasio Monteiro Trust.
However, the Trust has also encountered similar problems and if people do not agree to contribute towards making the drive a success, the plastic collection drive could well be a thing of the past in the village.
“For the past couple of months, I have found it difficult to pay the salaries of workers employed in the plastic collection drive and they are threatening to stop work if they do not get their salaries on time. I had to borrow money to pay part of the December salary,” said the Trust Chairperson Alda Monteiro.
As a bail out, the Merces panchayat agreed to contribute towards the November and December salaries of 2012.
However, panchayat authorities are reluctant to contribute every month and want the villagers to contribute towards the plastic collection drive to make it self-sustainable.
Monteiro informed that the Trust currently requires Rs 28,000 per month to pay the salaries of three staff members and the rent of the rickshaw. “Of these, Rs 7500 is contributed by CMM,” she added.
To collect the remaining amount, the Trust and the panchayat issued a circular to the residents, where the plastic collection drive is undertaken, to contribute Re 1 per day to the Trust.
That is where the problem started, as some villagers opted not to hand their plastic waste since they would have to shell out Rs 30 per month.
If finance is one issue, the trust is further facing another problem of disposing the plastic.
Monteiro informed that the government has not appointed a contractor for North Goa to dispose off the plastic. 
“I had to make alternate arrangements to dispose off the plastic, as the collection centre was getting full and for that, I also had to pay more money,” she added.
A good initiative undertaken by the NGOs to rid Merces of the plastic waste is now under threat and unless a solution is worked out, there is every possibility that all efforts to begin the plastic collection drive will go down the drain. [H]