‘City prone to virus spread through biomedical waste’
Environmental activists have warned that if biomedical wastes are not disposed of scientifically, they could turn into another hazard in the spread of COVID-19.
“Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016, mandates the usage of five different colours of plastic bags to dispose of biomedical wastes. However, in Tamil Nadu such practices are not followed which may result in COVID-19 spreading through them,” said G Sundarrajan, of Poovulagin Nanbargal, a Chennai-based NGO working on environmental issues.
Ever since the pandemic hit the State, biomedical wastes are generated in large quantity at the hospitals and there were complaints that they are not disposed of properly. Recently, health workers in Madurai Government Rajaji Hospital complained of not being given proper protective gear to dispose of COVID-19 biomedical wastes and that they were not disposed of scientifically.
Activists allege that the scenario prevails across Tamil Nadu. “The State lacks proper facilities to dispose of biomedical waste and does not follow the guidelines. Waste from COVID-19 wards should not be disposed of with other medical wastes, not to speak of household waste collected by the Corporation,” said Sundarrajan adding “waste from corona wards should be stored in a separate room or sent to the treatment facilities directly”.
Environmental activist V Prabakaran, who had done various researches in the disposal of biomedical wastes, said the State does not have proper facilities to process biomedical wastes. “47 tonnes of biomedical wastes are generated every day in TN, which can handle only 34 tonnes.
The State has only 11 Common Bio-Medical Waste Treatment Facilities (CBMWTF), which should be increased to at least 15,” he said.
Prabakaran said the scenario is worse in case of Chennai. “Only 25% of the biomedical wastes generated in the city are properly disposed of. The rest is dumped with the corporation garbage due to which there are higher chances of COVID-19 spreading through them. Tracing of biomedical wastes in Anagaputhur, Mannivakkam and Puzhal water bodies is a case in point,” he said.
However, a top official from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) dismissed the allegations. “There are proper guidelines for disposal of biomedical wastes and the violators are fined severely,” he said requesting anonymity.