The sight of overflowing garbage bins is no more an issue with Panaji, capital of Goa, which started a ‘bin-less city’ campaign almost a decade ago. This is just one of the few initiatives Goa has taken to replicate successful models of other civic bodies and panchayats across the country. Agnello Fernandes, Municipal Commissioner, Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) talks to CIJ about the successful door-to-door garbage collection and solid waste management programmes.
Today, if Panaji city has managed to do away with the garbage bins completely, it is because of the effective door-to-door garbage collection system. Previously, both dry and wet wastes were being dumped in the Baingani landfill site. But the Corporation lost the land after the villagers protested.
In 2000, the door-to-door garbage collection model was adopted in one of the housing colonies comprising of 60 houses and a few schools. The Corporation involved volunteers and local councilors to spread the message across the city. Trained volunteers (mostly school/college students) visited individual households to give demonstration on waste segregation. Even hotels, hospitals and nursing homes were provided with leaflets/pamphlets carrying information on segregation at source and garbage-lifting schedules.
Green and black coloured bins were sold at a subsidized rate to households. The bins came with a locking system, which eliminated the chances of tipping over by stray dogs or cats. We began collecting wet waste on a daily basis and dry waste three-times a week. There are separate vehicles now for collecting bio-medical, hotel and household wastes. Mondays and Thursdays are designated for collecting the household waste, Tuesdays and Fridays for hotel waste and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays for sorting waste at the centre.
There are around 99 composting units in the city. Most of the wet waste is handled in the composting units built within housing colonies and the rest is sent to the big composting unit in the market area. The Corporation has also procured two organic waste converters from Excel Industries (Mumbai) for its composting unit at the Baingani landfill site this January. Everyday around five tonnes of waste from hotels, markets and households are fed into these converters. CCP is planning to buy six more converters in the coming months.
Dry wastes like plastic, Styrofoam/thermocol and food-grade packaging materials like potato chips covers are brought to the ‘Material Recovery Facility’ or sent to the sorting centre. These non- recyclable wastes are further sorted by the recyclers leaving behind only thermocol and packaging materials.
In order to tackle the issue of mixed (the dry and wet) waste being sent to the sorting centre, the Corporation implemented the ‘four-bin system’ in 20 housing colonies in September 2011. The bins are colour coded for easy segregation of dry wastes: grey for glass and metal waste; brown for paper and cartons; orange for plastic waste and purple for non-recyclables items like thermocol, ceramics, rubber, rexene, leather, cloth, gloves, broken plates, batteries and tube lights.
The housing societies have employed two workers to collect waste from households. The bio-waste consisting of cotton swabs, pampers and sanitary pads is collected separately from the houses, filled in yellow bags and transferred to the municipal vans for scientific disposal. The rest of the waste from the colour-coded bins is taken to the sorting centre in the municipal vehicle.
Another positive development is the commissioning of two baling machines at the sorting centre in Panaji. These are used to compress non-recyclable wastes into 1x1foot bales which are then delivered to the Associated Cement Corporation factory in Karnataka. The State’s Environment department had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ACC for disposal of residual waste, such as plastic, thermocol, tyres and other waste items. CCP has sent approximately 70-75 tonnes of waste to ACC since last September. Tetra pack waste is also compressed in the same machine and sent to the Tetrapack Company.
CCP is looking for a proper set up for segregating the large-scale market waste generated every day. Now, having managed to get back the Baingani landfill site, CCP can manage waste more effectively.
CCP is seeking for active participation from individuals, associations and activists to help in these initiatives. Since February, the ‘Wives of Sailors’ and its associates have joined the campaign to explain the significance and demonstrate waste segregation in individual houses. The group has already adopted one of the colonies in Panaji and is in the process of adopting one more.
In spite of these initiatives, dry and wet wastes are still being dumped into the same bin. Fish bones and leftovers are being thrown into the dry waste bins. Though, the Corporation has even prepared a documentary and aired it on some of the local TV channels, the problem persists.
A few housing colonies have now got involved in the segregation system. The remaining colonies will be included in the coming months. Corporate houses too have taken interest in these projects.
Unlike in other cities of the country, open defecation is not an issue in Panaji city, as it has a well-connected underground sewerage system. The Sewerage Treatment Plant at Conca is operating at full capacity. Moreover, Panaji city does not have slums.
Civic infrastructure with narrow and old-colonial styled roads restricts mechanized cleaning. Though, CCP has procured two truck-mounted sweepers, they are not used frequently. Besides, maintenance of the high walls in the market is also difficult. Thus, roads are cleaned twice manually. The Corporation also has plans to outsource the cleaning of the market area to a private contractor.