One of the concerns that have cropped up during the aftermath of covid-19 is the huge amount of medical waste that has been generated across India and the ways the waste has been treated.
Reports have suggested that India generated 18,006 tonnes of COVID-19 biomedical waste in the last four months, with Maharashtra contributing the maximum (3,587 tonnes) to it. In addition around 5,500 tonnes of COVID-19 waste was generated across the country in September – the maximum for a month so far.
According to the data received from state pollution control boards, since June, all states and Union Territories have generated 18,006 tonnes of COVID-19-related biomedical waste which was being collected, treated and disposed of by 198 common biomedical waste treatment facilities (CBWTFs).
Covid-19 medical waste has been a major health hazard and the waste has been growing win terms of weight and threat since the past many months now. The Covid-19 waste includes PPE kits, masks, shoe covers, gloves, human tissues, items contaminated with blood, body fluids like dressings, plaster casts, cotton swabs, beddings contaminated with blood or body fluid, blood bags, needles, syringes and the test kits.
According to the data, Maharashtra generated 3,587 tonnes of COVID-19 waste in four months since June, followed by Tamil Nadu (1,737 tonnes), Gujarat (1,638 tonnes), Kerala (1,516 tonnes), Uttar Pradesh (1,432 tonnes), Delhi (1,400 tonnes), Karnataka (1,380 tonnes) and West Bengal (1,000 tonnes).
Around 5,490 tonnes of such waste was generated in September, with Gujarat contributing the maximum 622 tonnes, followed by Tamil Nadu (543 tonnes), Maharashtra (524 tnnes), Uttar Pradesh (507 tonnes) and Kerala (494 tonnes).
Around 5,240 tonnes of COVID-19 waste was generated in August, of which 1,359 tonnes was in Maharashtra, and 588 tonnes each in Kerala and Karnataka.
In July, the country generated 4,253 tonnes of COVID-19 waste, with Maharashtra (1,180), Karnataka (540) and Tamil Nadu (401) being the top three contributors. India generated 3,025 tonnes of COVID-19 waste in June, with Maharashtra alone accounting for 524 tonnes, followed by Gujarat (350 tonnes), Delhi (333 tonnes) and Tamil Nadu (312 tonnes)
The CPCB had in March issued specific guidelines for handling, treatment and disposal of such waste at healthcare facilities, quarantine centres, homes, sample collection centers, laboratories, pollution control boards, urban local bodies and common biomedical waste treatment facilities (CBMWTFs).
The apex pollution body had in May developed the COVID19BWM mobile application to monitor coronavirus-related biomedical waste and to compile the data through electronic manifest system.
Though the apex court has made it mandatory for all urban local bodies and state pollution control boards to use the mobile application for tracking biomedical waste daily in a bid to ensure that the waste is collected, transported and sent to the registered CBMWTFs, but dealing with this waste has been proving a major challenge.
In a place like ours, the Covid-19 waste is openly strewn on the roads with test kits, masks, face covers and other items remaining on the roads for days together. This can prove to be a catastrophe especially when winter season is all set to make its presence felt here.