The citizens of Margao, under the banner of Shadow Council and armed with documents obtained through RTI, have alleged that the destruction of soil, environment, ecology and groundwater table is a government-sponsored initiative in Margao.
During a press conference, SCM Convener Savio Coutinho, accompanied by prominent citizens, including Candeth Castello, Adv Snehal Onskar, Jose Maria Miranda, Maria do Carmo, Anthony Pereira, Damodar Onskar and Anthony Gonsalves, listed out details of the hazardous nature of the waste being dumped by the authorities on a ground near the Ravindra Bhavan, Margao.
Coutinho rued, "World Soil Day was celebrated a few days ago on December 5, and on this very day we received shocking information that government agencies like Goa Waste Management Corporation and Margao Municipal Council have embarked on a mission to harm its citizens with hazardous materials, as dangerous as mercury and arsenic.”
Coutinho displayed test reports of the waste at Sonsodo and has alleged that the Goa State Pollution Control Board was playing a mute and blind spectator.
SONSODO MESS IN CITY?
He further stated that it becomes important to let the general public and the authorities know about the hazardous nature of the waste. He said that the Margao MLA Digambar Kamat is on record claiming success in such operations of dumping garbage in low-lying areas of Margao.
A public representative Kamat, who claims that the operation of dumping waste at the SGPDA ground was a successful method of handling garbage, clearly indicates that he is all set to transfer the entire Sonsodo waste to the low-lying areas of Margao city, Savio claimed.
A press note issued by the SCM revealed that in response to an RTI application, dated 27/10/22, the GWMC has furnished test reports conducted on the waste lying inside the Sonsodo shed/plant. Whether it is a matter of coincidence or not, it is worth mentioning that the samples for testing were collected on November 1, 2022, that is, after SCM's RTI application was filed, the press note adds.
According to reports furnished, tests were conducted on one sample each of inert material and compost.
The levels of mercury found in the test are six times higher than the permissible limit. Mercury is a known poison and is a serious threat to the life of citizens if it is dumped as is being done. It is bound to enter our ecosystem, it states further.
The Shadow Council asserted that citizens have a right to know whether the 2 kg sample collected represents the entire 14000 cubic metres pile up. The manner in which the waste is collected and piled up shows that different parts of the pile can contain different pollutants.
The samples collected should have been from different parts of the dump, in a larger quantity and then mixed so that they would be more representative, it added.
According to reports, the compost contains about 20 per cent moisture. Therefore, the samples need to be dried before testing so as to exclude the moisture from the sample actually used in the testing, the SCM stated.
None of this is indicated in the report, and this means the levels of all the tested parameters are actually 20 per cent higher than indicated. Under such considerations, the levels of chromium, lead and nickel would also reach the limits, it stated.
Most unexpected from these authorities is the fact that even after having such abnormal test results, they went ahead dumping this hazardous waste near the district court, the SCM charged.
IS GSPCB ABOVE LAW?
The GSPCB has approved the land that will be used to dump compost, but what is to be dumped could be hazardous. The test report is silent on the contents like plastic, microplastic, cloth, syringes, metal shavings/pieces and other kinds of contaminants in the waste, the Shadow Council observed.
SCM has demanded to know from the Minister for Environment Nilesh Cabral whether the GSPCB is to protect the environment or play a silent role.
SCM had on 24/11/22 submitted 3 samples of the dumped waste, and on 7/12/22, the GSPCB themselves had collected 2 samples from the site. SCM said it hopes that the pollution control board does a sincere job, and makes public the test reports of the samples at the earliest, before the MMC and GWMC start another round of dumping hazardous substances in other parts of the city.