Treating corona waste
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 and the ways the waste has been treated.
Reports have suggested that India generated more than 18,600 tonnes of COVID-19 biomedical waste in the last four months, with Maharashtra contributing the maximum (3,887 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. The months following September 2020 have marked an increase thereof.
According to the data received from state pollution control boards, since June, all states and Union Territories have generated 18,6oo 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 3,887 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.
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 waste generated has also proved a challenge as most of it has been treated unscientifically. Even as of now masks and other materials used at some places is strewn in open creating a scare among the residents here. All this needs to be controlled as the new positive cases have been controlled to a large extent here and any callousness can undo the good work that has been achieved.