NGT: Waste segregation essential to stop COVID spread

Segregation of COVID-19 biomedical waste from other biomedical waste is a must to avoid further spread of the infection and its adverse impact on public health, a bench of the National Green Tribunal headed by its Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said. The court added that mass awareness must be created on the subject through the Doordarshan and the All India Radio.

“Scientific management is necessary in view of the potential of COVID-19 biomedical waste to infect other patients, workers and professionals concerned,” the green court said.

It stated that there are gaps in complying with Central government guidelines issued to manage COVID-related garbage and sought urgent remedy in the matter.

The court highlighted that about 101 metric tonnes of COVID-19 waste was being generated every day in diagnosing and treating coronavirus patients across the country.

As per the information given by state pollution control boards, 2,907 hospitals, 20,707 quarantine centres, 1,539 sample collection centres and 264 testing laboratories, are involved in generating COVID-19 waste.

“This quantity is in addition to the 609 MT of biomedical waste normally generated every day,” the tribunal noted, adding that about 195 facilities are collecting, transporting and disposing Covid-related biomedical waste.

“Segregation of COVID-19 waste from general waste is a must, not only to avoid additional load on incinerators, but also in the interest of avoiding further contamination adversely affecting public health,” the tribunal said.

The NGT said that where waste is not going to incinerators, deep burial systems – option only made available by the National Health Mission to towns with population less than 5 lakh people – may be maintained.

A deep burial system involves burying biomedical waste in 2-meter-deep ditches and covering them with a layer of lime and soil.

The CPCB has been directed to file a consolidated report in the matter by December 31.

Picture Credit: Terence OngNEA recycling bins, Orchard RoadCC BY-SA 3.0

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