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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Many Indian cities reported dumping bio-medical waste with garbage

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As per the Central Pollution Control Board Evaluation Report- presently 50 to 55 per cent of Bio-Medical Waste is collected, segregated and treated as per the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules. Rests are dumped with the Municipal Solid Waste. This evaluation report was submitted in February 2010.It was carried out by Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow and commissioned by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

It is now suspected that radio active cobalt-60 isotope which was found in the Mayapuri scrapyard of New Delhi has come from hospital waste. The isotope cobalt-60 has left 6 people battling for their lives in the scrap yard area. About 50 per cent of the bio-medical waste generated In India’s hospitals is dumped with municipal garbage without any treatment – reveals the recent study evaluating CPCB. A total of 15,000 hospitals in the country have been served show-cause notices for not following waste management rules.The Minister of State for Atomic Energy Prithviraj Chavan has said that the radioactive Cobalt-60 isotope might had come from abroad. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on April20 he reportedly said, "How did it come? Most likely this piece of equipment containing Cobalt 60 is not registered with the Atomic Energy Regulation Board (AERB). So the logical conclusion is that it came as scrap from abroad,” Mr. Chavan said in response to a calling attention motion moved by D. Raja of the Communist Party of India.Mr. Chavan ruled out the material having originated from domestic sources, as the country had strict rules and regulations in place. “No operator in the country could buy radiological equipment for treatment without the permission of the AERB, and even the disposal of the same is monitored.” (The Hindu, April21, 2010).

Seriousness of the problem
More than 4.2 lakh kg of bio-medical waste per day is generated in the country. But there are only 157 facilities that qualify to treat the waste. Thus only 2.4 lakh kg of bio-medical waste is reported to be treated before its final disposal. Institutional reports reveal that out of 84,809 hospitals and healthcare systems in India only 48,183 are either treating their wastes at source or are employing private agencies for it.

As per the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules,1998 it is mandatory for hospitals to ensure that bio-medical wastes are handled without any adverse effects to human health and the environment. All the healthcare institutions are expected to have incinerators, autoclaves or microwaves in operation so far is 391, 2562, and 458 respectively. In spite of the categorical direction in the rules that bio-medical wastes should not be mixed with any other type of waste and should be segregated at the point of generation more than 50 per cent of such types of waste are being mixed with the municipal waste.

The Survey
A survey team of Delhi Pollution Control Committee has found a number of illegal dumping sites across the city. These dumping sites have been reported to have hexavalent Chromium which is a hazardous waste. Long term exposure to this hazardous waste is known to cause health problems of lung, kidney, stomach and skin. Out of all the 47 samples collected by the team, 23 sites were fond to be containing hexavalent chromium exceeding the prescribed limit. The team of experts is of the opinion that after the Mayapuri incident, it is time that Delhi administration became careful to the ill effects of mismanagement of hazardous waste. The team found that Wajirpur Industrial Area was generating the highest quantum of waste measuring about 790 tonnes per annum. It is advised by experts and environmentalists that waste treatment facilities be increased in sufficient number. These can also be set with public private partnership. There is urgent need of development of more efficient technologies like plasma technology to destroy the toxic bio-medical waste.

Key Words: bio-medical waste, municipal waste, garbage, Central Pollution Control Board,Bio- Medical Waste Management Rules, Cobalt-60, radio active isotope, evaluation report, Survey, scrap yard, Mayapuri, New Delhi

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