Goans are literate, but they litter the tourist state with carefree abandon, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza has said.
D'Souza has been criticised for a leading a 38-member waste management "junket" to Europe that cost nearly Rs.1 crore.
D'Souza who returned Sunday after the nine-day trip also told the latest edition of "Nave Parva", an official magazine published by the state ministry for information and publicity that since garbage is generated by the people, "therefore they should also take care of it".
"While they keep their houses spic and span, the state is being dirtied. So what is the use of the high level of literacy if our people cannot do the simplest thing of not littering," D'Souza said in the interview to the state government's official magazine.
With tourism in Goa increasing nearly triple-fold in the last decade or so, the state has been unable to handle the cubic tonnes of garbage, which the industry generates every day, so much so that both tourism industry stakeholders as well as foreign tourists have begun complaining about the filth which dots the state's beaches and roads.
What has compounded the issue further has been the inability of the state government to identify a single site big enough, to dispose garbage, both organic and non-organic in face of localised opposition.
The fate of Goa's only large-scale, but mismanaged garbage treatment plant at Sonsodo in south Goa is a grim reminder of how a privately-run government initiative can create havoc for residents in its vicinity with complaints of foul smelling leachate spilling into the open and contamination of ground water.
As a result, it is not unusual to find piles of garbage strewn along the roads as well as near urban hubs in this beach tourism destination, visited by 2.6 million tourists annually.
According to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the key to Goa's garbage solution lies in small, sanitised European towns like Kaiserslautern in Germany, where he personally inspected the garbage management system in place there.
D'Souza, who is also the state's urban development minister, said the Goa government has already approved setting up of two fuel-generating dry plastic treatment plants and that the Parrikar-recommended In-Vessel Treatment (IVT) for mixed garbage plants was next in line.
D'Souza's much criticised 38-member educational tour that included bureaucrats, ministers, panchyat members and journalists, visited Austria, Italy and Germany to examine solid waste management technology in action.
The group visited garbage management sites in these European towns, but a stream of photo updates on social media websites made by members of the delegation posing at picturesque tourist hotspots have irked civil society here, especially after ministers of the Goa government have been complaining about lack of funds for development activities following the ban on mining here.
"The 38-member Goa delegation is back in Goa. Rs.1 crore of our taxpayer money spent. I have no grudge on money spent on site-visits to waste management sites, but why did the delegation also visit Rome, the Vatican, go on romantic boat rides in Venice, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and many other museums Was this a holiday? The people of Goa want answers," said Clinton Vaz, a waste management expert himself on his Facebook wall.
--Indo-Asian News Service maya/pm/vm
( 551 Words)