Turning trash to treasure: This woman-led waste management model in Goa is a success story

Goa has successfully transformed a towering landfill into an integrated solid waste management facility

By Rahul Jain
Published: Friday 04 August 2023
Photo: GWMC

In a remarkable effort to address waste management challenges and protect its pristine beaches, Goa has successfully transformed a towering landfill into an integrated solid waste management facility. This facility in north Goa’s Saligao spans approximately 12 hectares and caters to waste generated at popular beaches like Bagha, Calangute and Anjuna as well as village Panchayats. 

The plant, which is operated on a public-private partnership model between the Goa Waste Management Corporation (GWMC) and Hindustan Waste Treatment Pvt Ltd, has been a game-changer in sustainable waste management.

The facility’s inception in May 2016 marked a turning point for waste management in Goa, with an initial capacity to handle 120 tonnes per day (TPD) of waste. Over time, it has significantly expanded, doubling its capacity to 250 TPD by December 2021.

Also read: India’s compressed biogas sector needs a big push, says ETAC report

The impressive thing about the plant is that it is run under the leadership of Gargi Raote, who is among the few women to head a waste management plant in India. The integrated solid waste management facility employs an advanced approach to treat municipal solid waste.

Rohan Ghadi, engineer at GWMC, told Down To Earth:

The plant receives segregated organic (wet) and inorganic (dry) fractions, which amount to 150 TPD and 100 TPD, respectively. The inorganic waste is separated into 16 different fractions, out of which some materials are recycled and others are used to generate refuse derived fuel (RDF). The produced RDF is supplied to cement factories in Maharashtra and Karnataka at zero cost.

The wet organic waste is used to produce biogas which is then converted to electricity. There are a total of three anaerobic-type thermophilic continuous stirred-tank reactors.

This plant generates 17,000 cubic metres of biogas per day (m3/day). Of this, 13,000 m3/day is utilised for power generation after removing moisture and hydrogen sulphide. Three gas engines (170 kilowatts, 600 KW, 600 KW) produce 1.37 megawatts (MW) of electricity daily from the biogas, delivering a monthly total of approximately 32 MW.

“The surplus electricity, approximately 20-22 MW, is supplied to the grid at a rate of Rs 5 per unit, and the rest is utilised to run the facility,” said Raote.

Additionally, 25-30 tonnes of sludge is produced per day, which is turned into solid compost (6-8 tonnes per day) in a covered aerated drying hall that covers an area of 4,000 square metres. The generated compost is sold at Rs 4 per kilogram and some part is distributed free of cost for social welfare, she added. 

“The initial setup capital cost of the facility was Rs 146 crore, with an additional investment of Rs 103 crore during the expansion to a capacity of 250 TPD. GWMC pays Rs 2209.6 + 18 per cent goods and services tax to Hindustan Waste Treatment Pvt Ltd, for treating one tonne of waste,” Levinson J Martins, managing director of GWMC, told DTE. 

There is no tipping fee levied on village Panchayats for depositing wet waste at the facility. These expenditures are justified by the considerable environmental benefits and electricity generation from the biogas plant, which operates continuously without failures, Martins added.

Also read: Budget kick: Keep these factors in mind while setting up a Bio-CNG plant

The success of the plant can be attributed to several crucial factors. First and foremost, through the Department of Science, Technology and Waste Management, the Government of Goa demonstrated unwavering political will in forming GWMC. The entity, which is distinct from municipalities, is headed by the chief minister of Goa. 

Second, due to a consistent information, education and communication strategy employed by GWMC, the level of waste segregation has shown significant improvement — rising from 60 per cent in 2016 to an impressive 90 per cent presently. This has been a result of better awareness and education initiatives that encourage proper waste segregation.

Additionally, a plant monitoring committee comprising bureaucrats from technical backgrounds ensures regular monitoring and suggests solutions to operational challenges. Moreover, incentives tied to the plant’s performance have been offered to motivate GWMC staff, encouraging dedication and efficiency. 

Goa’s integrated solid waste processing plant stands as a testament to sustainable waste management practices. Its transformation from a landfill into a state-of-the-art facility demonstrates the positive impact that dedicated efforts and political will can achieve.

By effectively treating and generating electricity from waste while promoting waste segregation and community engagement, this plant serves as an inspiring model for other regions seeking to combat waste management challenges and embrace a greener future.

Read more:

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.