PANAJI: The handling plant at Lakerem, , was among the first in Goa and projected as a successful model for a small town population, but citizens are critical of lack of plans to modernize it for the war against .

For a few kilometres around, barring a small cluster of houses about a km away on its south-western side, the single shed plant sits on a low and scenic plateau. After a longish interval, a truckload of waste, predominantly wet, arrives from the town about 3km away.

The operations are entirely manual with only two baling machines to compress the bulk of plastic waste for dispatch to the cement factories. The workers sort out the recyclable waste, which is classified into 10-odd categories. The wet waste is composted and sold to agricultural farms.

“The plant receives on an average four tonnes of wet and just over two tonnes of dry waste,” said chief officer, Bicholim municipal council (BMC), Vivek Naik. Citizens and others are generally happy about the first plant in this region catering fairly well to their needs. But while plateau was chosen for setting up a Rs 150 crore plant, they are disappointed that their local facility has been ignored for even modest upgradation.

“Though a good model for garbage handling initially, the plant is to some extent a , as the potential of the site has not been fully utilized,” says local social activist, Sameer Vaigankar.

The authorities have tried to improve the segregation at source, but some basic requirements have to be considered. “There are some houses which do not have bins for wet and dry waste. The other issue is the plant is overdue for a technical upgrade,” said environmentalist Ramesh Gauns. The residential areas are fairly clean, but plastic litter and garbage can be seen at the riverside bus stand and open spaces. “The visitors and passersby are mainly responsible for this,” a citizen said. With the garbage plant away from habitation and a lot of land available, there is immense scope for expansion and improving services. Many officials in agricultural and technical fields from Bicholim are working in various departments. “Their help could have been availed for the plant to curb the plastic menace,” Vaigankar said. Officials conceded that the ratio of recoverables from plastic is not satisfactory, but asserted that efforts are being made to train the staff to improve it. “Plans for expansion of the plant and technical upgrade with new equipment are in the pipeline,” Naik said.

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