Only 32 of the 49 GPs sent proposals to set up waste management units to zilla panchayats

The inability of gram panchayats in Mangalore taluk to set up or maintain solid waste management units in the villages came under fire at the review meeting of panchayat officials here on Saturday.

Out of 49 gram panchayats in the taluk, only 32 had sent proposals to establish a solid waste management (SWM) unit to the zilla panchayat; and of these only a few had been set up, Koragappa Naik, president of the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat, was informed during the meeting.

“There is a need to emphasise on solid waste management, for which the district has won laurels,” said Mr. Naik. Rithesh Shetty, vice-president of the panchayat, even said SWM takes precedence over housing projects, and other schemes.

Even in Kinnigoli and other gram panchayats where the unit has been set up, its maintenance has been severely hampered by shortage of labour to collect and segregate garbage.

However, in villages such as Belvai, Neermarga – which was singled out for its mounting garbage problem – Shirtadi, Adyar, Hosabettu, the unit had not even commenced because of the difficulty in obtaining land.

A number of Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs) explained that sites identified for the unit had been rejected by the Revenue Department for being a deemed forest or place marked for a cemetery. Other gram panchayats cited shortage of funds and staff, procedural delays to explain the lack of implementation of the scheme.

The PDOs were berated for not seeking out alternative sites and for not following up on the scheme. “If any of the officers show dereliction of duty, they should be suspended,” Mr. Naik told the taluk executive officer.

Criticising the officers for not applying thought into the setting up of the units, the ZP President said: “A few Gram Panchayats in Bantwal have segregated the waste, and earned a little revenue by selling plastic and compost. Why can’t it be replicated here also?”

Exasperated by the officers’ complains of funding, Mr. Naik directed them to tighten their collection of taxes. “Only nine gram panchayats have achieved 100 per cent tax collection for the last financial year…If a PDO manages the money well, there will not be any shortage of funds,” he said.

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