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Sonsoddo festers as successive waste management projects fail

Margao: When the state-of-the-art solid waste management plant at Sonsoddo managed by Fomento Green became operational in December 2012, it was believed that the ordeal of the residents of the vicinity, who had borne the stench and stink emanating from the rotting garbage for years, would come to an end. However, over five years later, with the landfill site yet to be made functional, the plant is incapable of functioning at its optimum level.It was hoped that Fomento’s stepping into the field of garbage management would help resolve the crisis the Margao municipal council (MMC) had been facing for long. Successive projects initiated by the civic body, before the current project was set up, had ended in complete failures.The series of failures began in 1998 when the MMC entered into an agreement with Komex India Pvt. Ltd. for managing garbage at Sonsoddo on scientific lines. The project lasted till 2000. From March 2000 to November 2004, the council managed waste on its own. Goa Foundation was later roped in and its stint at Sonsoddo lasted till 2006. Around this time, Hyquip Projects Pvt. Ltd. was handed over the task, and it operated the site from August 2006 to October 2008. However, the company was involved in a controversy and charges and counter-charges over the payment of bills followed. When Hyquip left, Goa Foundation once again took charge, only to quit soon after being upset over the civic body’s “non-cooperation” in taking steps for making available a site for the landfill. In 2009, MMC invited bids for setting up a solid waste management plant on a design, build, own, operate and transfer (DBOOT) basis. Fomento-IL&FS bagged the tender. While the concession agreement between MMC and Fomento was signed on February 1, 2011, the foundation stone for the project was laid only on October 2, 2011.
The solid waste management plant having a design capacity of 80 TPD (tons per day) is built on DBOOT basis for a period of 25 years, at a cost of Rs 7.31 crore to the MMC. The plant uses “aerobic windrow composting method” of treatment and all processes are almost fully mechanised, carried out by state-of-the-art imported machines and remote-controlled cranes. An overhead electrically operated travelling crane (EOT), two stationery cranes and three trommels constitute the array of machines installed at the plant. In this method the waste is spread in long rows (windrow) and periodically mechanically turned with the help of the EOT.However, all’s not well with the functioning of the plant. At his janata durbar held at the MMC in November 2017, minister for town and country planning (TCP) Vijai Sardesai had urged the chairman of Fomento, Avdhut Timblo, to come out with a clear plan over Fomento’s waste management plant within two weeks. Nearly four months later, there has been no significant progress on that front.Significantly, the MMC recently constituted the Disputes Redressal Forum as mandated in the concession agreement between the MMC and Fomento Green. Various issues between the two agencies pertaining to the plant are likely to come up at the first meeting of the Forum, the date for which authorities have inexplicably failed to fix. While the MMC had paid the concessionaire the first instalment of Rs 1.30 crore so far, it has failed to clear two bills raised by Fomento Green amounting to Rs 2.60 crore in the course of time.
Meanwhile the Goa state infrastructure development corporation (GSIDC) has undertaken bio-remediation of the open garbage dump located besides the plant. The task involves screening of the mixed garbage by sievers with the ultimate aim of “getting rid of the mountain”. The work, which began in April, was suspended during monsoons and is yet to resume. The GSIDC has taken up the project as an extension of the Saligao plant. The delay in resumption of the work has made critics sceptical about the success of the task.The statement made by chief officer of the MMC Johnson Fernandes at the council’s meeting earlier this week betrays a sense of failure in the civic body. “Unless we put our logistics in place, the SWM plant will not be able to function at the desired level,” Fernandes said, adding that it was imperative that only segregated waste reaches the plant. And it’s precisely that — segregation of waste at source — the MMC finds difficult to streamline.As former MMC chairperson Savio Coutinho succinctly put it, “It’s the will that matters. And that’s the whole problem with the MMC — there’s no will to put in place an efficient garbage management plan.” [TOI]

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