Scanning the Goa garbage scenario


Although Goa has emerged as one of the most progressive states in the country, it continues to face an enormous task of managing its solid waste in a sustainable manner. Urbanization and changing lifestyles are steadily increasing the quantities and altering the nature of solid waste being generated in the state. The situation is worsened as it is a tourist destination and the necessary infrastructure and institutional mechanisms rendering waste management services are placed under increasing pressures.


The main sources of solid waste in the state are domestic households, commercial establishments, markets, hotels, restaurants, other tourist-related sources (such as off shore casinos), construction activities, medical facilities, mining, and other industrial activities. Although there is a legal framework for waste management, there is a pressing need to effectively translate regulation into meaningful action on the ground.

Some of the bottlenecks impeding effective implementation are inadequate institutional capacity and infrastructure, apathy on the part of service providers, poor civic sense, NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome, etc. This has led to indiscriminate burning and dumping of waste across the state. The situation is more pronounced in rural areas, which in reality are peri-urban areas with lifestyle, consumption and waste generation patterns on par with the urban areas of the state. Increasing amounts of non-biodegradable waste especially plastic, cartons, other disposable items in tourist regions, along with poor waste collection efficiency and inefficient transportation and disposal facilities are exacerbating the problem in Goa’s coastal villages posing a serious threat to the tourist industry of the state.

As per a 2011 Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) report on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), the total waste generated across the municipal areas in the state is approximately 214 tons per day. Panaji, Margao, Mormugao and Mapusa are the major ones, generating 55, 50, 45, and 15 metric tonnes per day (MTD) of MSW, respectively. There is no authentic data available on the waste generation and its disposal in the 190 village panchayats of Goa. Touristic coastal villages and semi urban areas such as villages and towns on the fringes of cities are also generating high amounts of solid waste easily on par with an average urban resident. A GSPCB 2012 report estimates that the twenty six coastal based panchayats together generate on an average almost 50 MTD of waste in their jurisdictions during the peak season.

Estimates suggest that across the whole state including the villages, the waste generation figure could be in the range of 400 MTD. Considering 40-55% of this waste to be non-biodegradable, we are looking at almost 60,000-80,000 MTA (metric tonnes per annum) of non-biodegradable waste with enormous recycling potential. Unfortunately, the current composting and recycling rates are extremely poor in the state rendering waste to remain largely as - waste i.e. a discard, rather than a resource.

However, with the integrated solid waste management plant recently set up at Saligao, North Goa and the other plant planned at Cacora-Curchorem there is much hope for the situation to change. The next article will look at the way forward and suggest various best practices that can be undertaken.


The estimated solid waste generation in the country is around 1.43 lakh tonnes per day as per a recent Central Pollution Control Board report. Maharashtra generates over 26,820 tonnes of solid waste per day, more than any other state in the country.

A waste management study by Ranjith Annepu in 2012 estimated urban India's per capita waste generation rate to be 500 grams per person per day. The same study estimated Goa's per capita generation to be 0.62 kg/day and comparable to the larger Indian cities of Greater Kolkata (0.66 kg/day), Greater Hyderabad and Delhi (each with o.6sKg/day).

In Goa, Panaji, Margao, Mormugao and Mapusa together contribute to almost 75-80 per cent of the total waste generated in the municipal jurisdictions of Goa.