Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has observed that the segregation of Covid-19 biomedical waste from general garbage is a must to avoid further contamination adversely affecting public health.
The directions came on a suo motu matter pertaining to scientific disposal of Covid-19 waste.
It observed that segregation of Covid-19 from general waste is a must to avoid additional load on Common Biomedical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facilities (CBWTFs) incinerators and also to avoid further contamination.
Around 2,907 hospitals, 20,707 quarantine centres, 1,539 sample collection centres and 264 testing laboratories, are involved in the generation of Covid-19 waste.
Generation of Covid-19 related biomedical waste in the country is about 101 Metric Tonnes (MT) per day.
This quantity is in addition to the normal biomedical waste generation of about 609 MT per day.
About 195 CBWTFs are providing the services of collection, transportation and disposal of Covid-19 biomedical waste from hospitals, sample collection centres, testing laboratories, etc.
The pandemic has presented a challenge in terms of capacity to scientifically dispose of generated waste and a challenge for civic authorities in charge of its collection and disposal.
States are not following the CPCB guidelines on Covid-19 related waste.
In some states, improper segregation of waste has been reported from Covid-19 facilities and quarantine homes.
The non-segregation of waste results in the incineration of contaminated plastics producing toxic gases and adding to air pollution.
The rise in residential biomedical waste and its collection without adhering to safety protocols could also trigger a surge in caseload.
Without proper scientific management of such waste, it can potentially affect patients and can affect the concerned workers and professionals.
Discarded masks and gloves risk the lives of thousands of sanitation workers who work often without any protection or training to handle such hazardous material.
Left-over food, disposable plates, glasses, used masks, tissues, toiletries, etc used by Covid-19 patients should be put in yellow-coloured bags, while used gloves should be put in red bags and sent for sterilisation and recycling at the CBWTFs.
Where waste is not going to CBWTF incinerators, deep burial systems should be properly maintained as per protocols taking all due precautions to prevent harm to the environment.
A deep burial system involves burying biomedical waste in 2-meter-deep ditches and covering them with a layer of lime and soil.
CPCB should take further initiatives like conducting an appropriate programme on Doordarshan, All India Radio and other media platforms to create mass awareness about the correct disposal of Covid-19 biomedical waste.