Close on the heels of the clean-up drive at the St George’s island beach on May 6 ( Café May 9), came two more back-to-back beach clean-up drives. This time citizen volunteers, led by waste management expert Clinton Vaz from V-Recycle cleaned up the Monkey beach near Vasco and the Grande island beach off the coast of Vasco on May 17th and 18th respectively.
This time around, the group collected a mind-boggling total of 153 bags of waste, weighing 2,650 kgs from the two beaches which included 82 bags of beer and liquor glass bottles, 45 bags of plastic water bottles and 26 bags of non-recyclable waste.
This latest initiative in Goa is part of an unprecedented, coordinated waste and brand audits in key cities of India. Scheduled to take place between May 16 to May 30 in the cities of Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru along with various cities in Goa, Kerala, and 12 Himalayan States, the audits seek to highlight the role of corporations in the global plastic waste crisis, results of which will be published on June 4 to coincide with the World Environment Day.
The Monkey Beach is a secluded beach which is accessible by boats and by foot from a steep slope adjacent to the Vasco Landfill site at Sada. The 18-member citizen volunteer team, led by V-Recycle trekked down the steep slope and was shocked to see the accumulated waste on the small beach. Four hours of hard work under a merciless sun resulted in the collection of 70 bags of waste ( 37 bags of beer and liquor bottles, 19 bags of plastic bottles and 14 bags of non-recyclable waste).
Amrita Sunita Anand, team member, Video Volunteers, the Anjuna based community monitoring organisation, who was a volunteer at Monkey Beach said, “We found tons of waste buried just between the rocks at one spot. At multiple sites we found burnt waste. I collected some 70 used sanitary pads.” According to Amrita the solution lay in collecting hefty deposits from the tourists before they boarded the boats. “All glass bottles should be approximately counted and deposits of INR 1,000 or more should be taken according to the quantity. The money can be refunded if the waste is brought back.”
Amrita was appalled to see the Vasco Landfill so close to the beach and the sea. “This is disastrous planning. No landfill should be allowed around the beach. In fact, we should do away with the culture of landfills,” she said.
The situation was no different at the Grande island on Friday. The 25 volunteers who boarded a motor boat for the island from the Baina beach were shocked to see the environmental damage on the beach.
Several hundred beer and liquor bottles, many broken, several hundred plastic water bottles and assorted waste lay strewn on the picturesque island beach.
After, yet another four-hour, back breaking effort, the group collected 83 bags of waste (45 bags of glass bottles, 26 bags of plastic bottles and 12 bags of non-recyclables).Deepak Pathania, Margao based inventor-designer who was one of the volunteers said, “I was shocked to see that we collected 80 bags. It looked as if we could have easily gathered hundreds more.”
According to Pathania, the government must fix toll booths at all jetties where a refundable deposit should be collected from tourists for every consumable product that they take on board the boat.
Pathania was confident this system would work. He said, “Indians are messy but thrifty more than messy. Everyone will bring back their garbage. If they don’t then the boat operators will bring it back to make the extra buck.”
Pathania was even ready to design the toll both for the government. “I would like to design the booth with small scale garbage compactors so that the garbage that leaves from the booth is not only segregated but also compacted,” he said. [H]