India’s National Green Tribunal suggests drastic changes over COVID-19 bio-medical waste disposal

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has requested the State Pollution Control Board and Pollution Control Committee to put in grave efforts to mitigate the possible risk of unscientific dumping of the bio-medical waste resulting out of the handling of the COVID-19 disease.

A bench headed by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, on Tuesday, raked up the issue of gaps in the agreement 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.

“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,” the bench also comprising Justice S.P Wangdi and Nagin Nanda stated.

The tribunal also perused 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.

It stated the need for revision of the guidelines 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 unique 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.

The bench also expressed the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism, including securing information by way of the electronic manifest system from the handlers of such waste and its online reporting by the State PCBS or PCCS by developing necessary software.

It stated that there is a need to create awareness by special awareness programmers, organizing training in concerned local bodies, health departments, providing workers handling COVID-19 waste with sufficient protective gear, adequate coordination with media and other concerned supervisory authorities.

The bench made the remarks after noting that out of 27 lakh Health Care Facilities (HCFS) identified, only 1.1 lakh are authorized under the BMW Management Rules, 2016. “We are of the view that to the above extent, the task of the PCBs and the CPCB is part of essential health services for COVID-19. The CPCB may convey this to all concerned.”

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