As per the new status report filed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), India is reported to be generating 101 MT of COVID-19 waste daily. This remains in addition to 609 MT of normal bio-medical waste generated daily across the country. To manage this quantity of bio-medical waste, 195 Common Bio-Medical Waste Treatment Facilities (CBWTFs) are operational in the country at present.
The report states that the available capacity for incineration of COVID-19 biomedical waste in the country is about 840 Metric Tons (MT) against the total generation of about 710 MT per day (comprising of 609 MT/day of regular biomedical waste and 101 MT/day of COVID-19 waste). It is estimated that about 55% of the cumulative incinerator capacity in the country is being utilized. But the report also warns that in some states or areas the problem may prove to be critical due to capacity limitation.
The report says that states that are currently utilizing 70% or more incineration capacity shall identify stand-by facilities for disposal of waste. Currently, states like Rajasthan (88%), Odisha (79%), Tamil Nadu (91%), Tripura (71%) are operating at the peak of their present incineration facilities. However, the situation remains alarming for the hill state of Uttarakhand which is currently operating at 92% of its incineration capacity. Thus, the state is required to find supportive incineration technologies and keep them on standby.
Improper segregation remains a major challenge in ensuring the safe disposal of waste, says the report. A mixed type of waste is coming out of isolation wards, quarantine centers and homes. Solid waste is being mixed with bio-medical waste putting more strain on the incinerators, as they are not designed to handle the domestic solid waste. The report also says that contaminated plastic is also going along with bio-medical waste for incineration which is supposed to be collected in separate red bags for sterilization and recycling.
Earlier, CPCB made an online app “COVID19BMW” to monitor the generation and disposal of COVID-19 waste across the country. Out of 35 states/UTs only 15 have fully implemented the app. 7 states/UTs have not implemented the app at all, while the remaining have partially implemented the app system. The report also highlights that all the states/UTs have submitted the status report on COVID-19 waste and 31 states/UTs have conducted a training and awareness session on COVID-19 waste.
Mountain states and COVID-19 waste
All ten mountain states/UTs (Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim, Arunachal, Tripura and Nagaland) are generating around 2 MT of bio-medical waste daily. The highest quantity of bio-medical waste generated amongst all the mountain states is by Uttarakhand – 0.53 tonnes per day.
Also, Arunachal, Mizoram and Nagaland remain three mountain states with no treatment facilities at all. Whereas, Uttarakhand’s treatment facilities are working at 92% of its capacity (highest amongst all the states), requiring an immediate development of technologies to be put on standby for treatment and disposal of COVID-19 waste. A sudden spike in waste quantities can prove to be critical for Uttarakhand.
Other mountain states like Manipur, Mizoram, Himachal also need to augment their capacities on treating and disposing the bio-medical waste as per the report.
Download the full report here
(By: Rishabh Shrivastava)
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