The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday raised a concern and urged the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) and Pollution Control Committee's (PCC) to make serious efforts to mitigate possible risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste, arising out of handling of COVID-19 disease.
A bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, made the observation after noting that out of 2.7 lakh Health Care Facilities (HCFs) identified, only 1.1 lakh are authorized under the BMW Management Rules, 2016. It said "We are of the view that to the above extent, the task of PCBs and the CPCB is part of essential health services for COVID-19. The CPCB may convey this to all concerned."
The bench through video conferencing took up for consideration the issue to address the gaps in compliance of the BMW Rules, 2016, as applicable to the disposal of bio-medical waste arising out of handling of COVID-19 disease, so as to ensure protection of environment and public health. It also took note of a report on the same subject published in the Indian Express titled 'Biomedical waste facilities, a red flag in coronavirus fight'.
The bench after perusing the revised guidelines for Handling, Treatment and Disposal of Waste Generated during Treatment/ Diagnosis/ Quarantine of COVID-19 Patients, published on April 19. Interacted with Dr Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary, CPCB.
The bench expressed the need for revision of the laid down guidelines to address all concerns in the light of best practices and experience from time to time so that all aspects of scientific disposal of liquid and solid waste management are taken care of not only at institution level but also at individual levels (such as manner of disposal of used PPEs, used bags, gloves, goggles, etc., without the same getting straightaway mixed with other municipal solid waste causing contamination etc.), dealing with situations where adequate facilities (like incinerators) are not available, distinct colour guidelines for the bins etc.
Further, the bench addressed the need for reviewing effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism, including securing information by way of electronic manifest system from the handlers of such waste and its online reporting by the State PCBs/PCCs on a daily basis, by developing necessary software. Creating awareness by special awareness programmers, organizing 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 in the States and the Central Government.
The bench also said "This Tribunal is already dealing with the subject of addressing gaps in bio-medical waste management generally in O.A No.710/2017, Shailesh Singh v. Sheela Hospital & Trauma Center, Shahjahanpur & Ors. and has given further directions on 22.1.2020 in respect of gaps emerging from a report of CPCB dated 15.11.2019 based on information furnished by the States/UTs. The waste generated on account of Covid- 19 disease has presented a further challenge which calls for this order."
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