Sonsodo shot into the news yet again after leachate flowed on the main road leaving the road slippery and causing motorists to skid and crash into each other. Tension ran high after a few people were left injured after they lost control of their vehicles due to wet road conditions. At least six minor accidents were reported on Tuesday evening as residents of neighbouring Raia and Curtorim rushed to the scene to take stock of the situation. Leachate water has been flowing onto the roads since last week but has skipped the eyes of authorities and civic officials.
The issue has brought Sonsodo back on centre stage after a brief lull following the High Court's intervention where directions were issued to the Margao Municipal Council to transport wet waste to Cacora and Saligao treatment plants, besides listing out a series of measures and protocols at the site. However, a few months later, the civic authorities seem to have lowered their guard and not complied with court directives in letter and spirit, and the leachate spill has only exposed that.
As per protocol, Sonsodo operations are to be supervised by a Junior Engineer, a sanitary inspector and a supervisor. Trucks are to be monitored, and so is the disposal process. This incident highlights the fact that Sonsodo is back to its old ways and checks and balances have gone missing. Otherwise, how did this spill go unnoticed? Did the municipality need road tragedies to take note of the leachate spill on roads?
The garbage-filled trucks that were lined up along the road have been releasing leachate for the past several days. While the intention of stacking trucks with garbage could be intended to minimise stench in the area, but not realising the fact that these trucks are not fitted with leachate tanks to trap the liquids released by wet garbage. This is not rocket science, and the chairperson or the chief officer should have been aware of the consequences since garbage trucks spilling leachate has been a common phenomenon even in the city.
Coincidentally, the leachate flow became the talk of the town hours after the High Court was hearing the Sonsodo matter where the Margao Municipality was arguing that no waste was being sent to the SGPDA bio-methanation plant and that it was complying with the Goa State Pollution Control Board's directives. The irony is that while the MMC was putting up a positive front before the court, negligence stood exposed on the ground.
While the insensitivity in handling the issue is as clear as daylight, it is the internal discord in the MMC that is adding to the misery. There seems to be a war breaking out between the Chairperson of the Municipal Council and the Chief Officer, with both pointing accusing fingers at each other to the extent that the Chairperson is threatening to lock the office of the CO.
The discord within the municipality, a body which is controlled by the BJP, does not augur well for the situation, especially since both the Chairperson and CO have close access to the Margao MLA. Digambar Kamat should have immediately intervened and brokered a truce since both warring officials have crucial roles to play to ensure that order is maintained at Sonsodo.