With pandemic at its peak, the world has witnessed the rise of a new environmental issue, biomedical waste, also being referred to as the COVID-19 waste. As per the status report filed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), India is reportedly generating 101 MT of COVID-19 waste daily.

In a nation-wide public health emergency, the generation of biomedical waste is one problem, but discharging these wastes without proper treatment is an even bigger problem.

Similarly, medical colleges and hospitals in Jammu are struggling to manage their COVID-19 waste. As per the recent media reports, the colleges and hospitals in Jammu are unable to treat their biomedical waste and discharging it directly into the river Tawi. The waste is not being handled, segregated, stored or disposed as per the bio-medical waste management rules 2016. Medical colleges and hospitals of Jammu are showing no seriousness in ensuring the scientific disposal of biomedical waste. This has resulted in gross pollution of the water body and has created resentment among the people.

Taking cognizance of this issue, the state pollution control board has issued a show-cause notice to the concerned colleges and hospitals, directing the levying of environmental compensation and initiating prosecution proceedings against them. The pollution watchdog has observed that medical superintendents of hospitals are just mute spectators to blatant violations of environmental laws. They have not been found to initiate steps for strict implementation of the acts and guidelines.

It is important to note that all ten mountain states/UTs 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. Arunachal, Mizoram and Nagaland remain three mountain states with no waste treatment facilities at all.

CPCB has made an online app “COVID19BMW” to monitor the generation and disposal of COVID-19 waste across the country. However, only 15 out of 35 states and UTs have implemented it.

(By: Gautam Kumar)

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