VASCO: The Verna gram sabha on Sunday unanimously resolved to oppose and reject the proposed integrated Solid Waste Management Plant (SWMP) in the village.
The plant is proposed in survey numbers 160 and 161 which are Scheduled areas of the plateau listed in the Regional Plan 2021 as eco-sensitive zone, being the catchment area that feeds 32 springs that flow into the six villages which are at the base of the plateau. Besides this, the springs feed the Ambulor lake and the river Sal, the villagers said.
The gram sabha members expressed their apprehensions that the proposed SWM plant would contaminate wells, ponds and water bodies situated at the Verna plateau as villagers depend on them for source of water while incinerators, leachate and strewn garbage would further cause air and soil pollution in the Verna area.
The gram sabha also demanded that the Verna panchayat should approach the court and obtain a stay order on the proposed project.
Verna sarpanch Marie Loren Fernandes explained gram sabha members about the integrated SWM plant proposed by the State government on Verna-Loutolim plateau near Poreabhat. She said that since Verna village could face adverse effect due to the project, she along with other panchayat members met Nuvem MLA Wilfred D'Sa, who according to her, assured them that he will support the villagers.
Verna Village Biodiversity Committee president Judith Rebello said that though the project was proposed on Verna-Loutolim plateau, villagers fetch water from the water bodies which are located at the base. The sources of these natural springs, wells as well as the sources of river Sal will get contaminated if SWM plant materialises.
Rebello also pointed out that many watermelon farms had been affected by some type of disease and cautioned the villagers about the pollution they will have to suffer once the SWM plant is built and commissioned. She further claimed that SWM facility cannot come up in the habitation clusters, public localities, catchment areas, near airport, monuments, natural springs etc.
Salu Cardozo said that though the government had claimed that the SWM facility at Saligao would not cause any pollution the villagers residing nearby were now complaining about the bad smell emanating there. He appealed to the people to unite and oppose the plant before a fate falls on them. He said that if the SWM facility was built at Verna then garbage from various places from South Goa would be brought there for treatment. The total amount of waste generated in Verna village was approximately five tonnes a month ie 0.175 a day which was less than a tonne per day.
Cardozo also alleged that the government had not conducted environmental impact assessment (EIA) report which was essential before setting up the SWM facility.
The gram sabha members said that the proposed project was in complete contravention of the spirit of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, a programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wherein the whole country was being directed to protect water sources by harvesting and conservation.
The gram sabha further resolved to support decentralisation of garbage management in keeping with the Panchayati Raj Act 1994 and the directives of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
It was further resolved that the panchayat should forward the resolution to relevant authorities, and that the villagers along with the panchayat will take all necessary steps to conserve, preserve and protect their basic rights to clean air, water and soil.