GOALPARA, Dec 21 - Allegations of highhandedness by some officials of the Forest Department was manifested when they stalled a pilot project on Source Management of Household Municipal Solid Waste (SM of HMSW) at the initial stage by labelling the construction of the �vermicompost plant� near the the municipality garbage dumping ground in Rakhyasini Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF) area under Matia revenue circle as unauthorised and illegal.
The dispute on the issue began when an NGO � ENVIRON � began the construction of a temporary shed of 8� x 12� dimensions for the �community waste assimilator� or �community improved vermicompost unit.� The NGO had started the project work, at the municipality dumping site, after clearing all the official formalities. The construction, which was to be completed in the stipulated project period of six months in the Rakhyasini PRF area, was termed as illegal by the forest officials, citing infringement of the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 and u/s 24.25 of the 1891 Act (as amended in 1995), after the matter was reported to the Deputy Commissioner, vide memo no. GR/7/encroachment /15/551-52 dated 21/11/2015 by a Forest Range Officer RI Ahmed and then by the DFO himself, after a field visit, jointly undertaken with ADC M Saikia, vide letter no GLP/DFO9T0/117/2/ Encroachment dated 23/11/15.
However, a copy of the minutes no. GMB/SWM/ENVIRON/2015/59 dated 31st Oct. 2015, on the GMB meeting which was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner JVN Subramanyam at the DC�s office conference hall on October 16, 2015, was made available to this correspondent, which stated that it was decided to implement a pilot project on SM of HMSW and entrust the work to an experienced NGO, ENVIRON, specializing in these types of projects having its own patented technology and with the initial phase covering only 200 households under ward nos. 6 and 16 respectively. The work would also include developing of the dumping ground with the help of MGNREGA funds through the Matia Block Development Office, by constructing the connecting road as well as digging the dump pit.
Interestingly, in a reply to the letter no. GDW 28/2015/PT/1/181 to ADC M Saikia, the executive officer of the Goalpara Municipality Board, Dhiman Kr Choudhury, stated that the project was cleared and awarded to ENVIRON, by the Deputy Commissioner in the meeting held on 16/10/15 and the vermi- compost land-filled sites will rather help forest conservation, as it will provide nutrients to plants and improve soil fertility. Moreover, as per official records, the land, which has been used by the GMB as a garbage dumping site, is under its possession for the last 25 years, and even though that particular land schedule falls under Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF) and not a Reserve Forest land, the Government, if it so desires, can withdraw the PRF status.
While talking to this correspondent, the executive officer, Dhiman Kr Choudhury said that the GMB, through proper planning is trying to streamline solid waste disposal, by efficiently managing solid wastes scientifically, by making use of the right technology, so that the environment is not affected adversely.
It may be mentioned here that the pilot project on Source Management of Household Municipal Solid Waste (SM of HMSW) was recently taken up by ENVIRON, a registered NGO under the Goalpara Municipality Board (GMB), to improve the overall standards of health, sanitation and environment and also to stop unscientific and uncontrolled dumping of solid waste (commonly known as garbage) in the municipal areas.
The chief functionary, ENVIRON, Dr Amarjyoti Kashyap said that a �Community Waste Assimilator� was already constructed at the designated site, after the intervention of the district administration and urged the Forest Department to play a proactive role in the successful running of the project. He also underscored the fact that the technology will help in forest conservation and not hinder it.
Some conscious citizens who regretted the action of the forest officials, in obstructing the construction of the shed at the dumping site are highly critical of the activities of the forest officials, alleging that they are neither interested nor bothered on the encroachment by nearly 500 families, the construction of unauthorised structures as well as illegal stone quarrying in the Rakhyasini PRF area.