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NGT raises concern over COVID-19 bio-medical waste disposal

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

NGT raises concern over COVID-19 bio-medical waste disposal

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016, about NGT.

For Mains: Concerns expressed by NGT, measures to address them.

Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has urged the State Pollution Control Board and Pollution Control Committee to put in serious efforts to mitigate possible risk of unscientific disposal of the bio-medical waste arising out of the handling of the COVID-19 disease.

 What’s the concern now?

There are concerns regarding unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste by unauthorised healthcare facilities.

Only 1.1 lakh out of 2.7 lakh healthcare facilities are authorised under the Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 so far.

What has the tribunal said?

  1. There are gaps in compliance of the Bio Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 which are applicable to the disposal of the bio-medical waste generated out of handling a viral disease.
  2. The State PCBS/PCCS have to make serious efforts to bridge the gap to mitigate possible risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste and enforce rule of law.
  3. There is need for revision of the guidelines for ‘Handling, Treatment and Disposal of Waste Generated during Treatment, Diagnosis, Quarantine of COVID-19 Patients’ issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently.

Need of the hour:

  1. All aspects of scientific disposal of liquid and solid waste management should be taken care of not only at institution level but also at individual levels, such as manner of disposal of used Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), used bags, gloves, goggles, without the same getting mixed with other municipal solid waste causing contamination.
  2. The effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism, including securing information should be reviewed by way of electronic manifest system from the handlers of such waste and its online reporting by the State PCBS or PCCS by developing necessary software.
  3. There is the need to create awareness by special awareness programmes, organising training in concerned local bodies, health departments, providing workers handling COVID-19 waste with adequate protective gear, adequate coordination with media and other concerned regulatory authorities.

Salient features of BMW Management Rules, 2016:

  1. The ambit of the rules has been expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity.
  2. It calls for Phase-out the use of chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags within two years.
  3. It calls for Pre-treatment of the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on-site.
  4. It seeks to Provide training to all its health care workers and immunise all health workers regularly.
  5. It seeks to Establish a Bar-Code System for bags or containers containing bio-medical waste for disposal.
  6. As per the rules, Bio-medical waste has been classified in to 4 categories instead 10 to improve the segregation of waste at source.
  7. As per the rules, State Government shall provide land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility.

Sources: the Hindu.