Report by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board regarding waste management in Gokarna, Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka, 07/07/2023

  • 07/07/2023

Report by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board in Original Application No 234 of 2023 (in re News item published in Newspaper Deccan Herald dated 01.03.2023 titled Unregulated tourism pushing Gokarna to the edge).

Gokarna Grama Panchayat falls under the jurisdiction of Kumta taluk in Uttara Kannada district. There was a complaint of open burning of municipal solid waste in Gokarna and burying of MSW mainly in its beach area.

During the inspection, February 23, 2023 by KSPCB, it was found that Gokarna Grama Panchayat had not yet identified its landfill site. It has established a solid waste management center at its own premises. M/s Omkar Enterprises in coordination with the Grama Panchayat has established a wet waste composting machine in the panchayat premises for the management of wet municipal solid waste of around 600 kg per day from Gokarna town. Apart from this the panchayat authorities also have established a small sheltered place for the segregation of waste. At the time of inspection, it was observed that the compost machine was not in operation.

Further, the waste collection contract which was earlier given to a charitable trust was also terminated and the panchayat has now started the waste management. However, the inspection team was informed that the panchayat was collecting wastes from selected areas only and this has led to the accumulation of municipal solid wastes everywhere (on the streets, beach area, market places).

During the inspection, a huge quantity of mixed waste was dumped everywhere within the premises of Grama Panchayat and one couldn't enter the compost machine or baling machine area. The authorities have not taken any action for sending the baled plastic waste to cement plants.

The present situation is that the Grama Panchayat itself is trying to manage solid waste but not in a scientific way. Only dry waste is being collected and not wet waste. Around 800 kg of dry waste is collected and out of which 200 kg of waste was in the form of mixed waste. During the inspection, it was observed that about 5-6 tons of waste in different forms (wet, dry and mixed waste) was found dumped within the premises in the most unhygienic way. Heaps of plastic bags bundled with waste inside were observed at the entrance. Some people were found engaged in segregating the dry wastes, but not in a systematic way.

The complainant showed the location where the wastes were buried in the main beach area along the roadside in the Grama Panchayat land. Mixed waste was found to be buried underneath the sand.

During the tourist period, many temporary shops were established in the main beach area and solid wastes were found dumped everywhere. At places such as the main beach and at the place where Sangam nala joins the sea, even open defecation was observed. Sangam nala itself was full of plastic bottles and unwanted materials thrown by the tourists and otherwise.

The report said that Grama Panchayat has failed in providing basic sanitation in the area. Gokarna grama panchayat does not have any UGD system ending in a sewage treatment plant (STP). A nala (raja kaluve) passes in the centre of the town - sewage and sullage from every household and the sewage from the entire village joins this nala and ultimately it joins the sea in the main beach area. During high tide, water from the sea enters the Sangam nala and during low tide as water recedes, all the dumped solid wastes and liquid waste can be seen in the nala "which itself is in very bad shape".