National Green Tribunal has expressed concern about the handling of bio-medical waste disposal in the wake of COVID-19 and directed the Central Pollution Control Board to mitigate the possible risk of unscientific disposal of the same. Pointing out that only 1.1 lakh out of 2.7 lakh healthcare facilities are authorised under Bio-medical Waste Management Rules 2016 so far, NGT has raised the issue of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste by unauthorised healthcare facilities. The Green Bench has maintained that CPCB is a part of the essential health service providers.
A bench lead by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Goel through video conferencing questioned the gaps in compliance of the Bio Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016, which are applicable to the disposal of the bio-medical waste generated out of handling a viral disease to ensure protection of the environment and public health. The bench comprising Justice S.P Wangdi, and Justice Nagin Nanda stated, “the State PCBs have to take serious efforts to bridge gap to mitigate possible risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste and enforce rule of law.”
The bench also reviewed the guidelines for ‘handling, treatment, and disposal of waste generated during treatment, diagnosis, quarantine of COVID-19 patients’ issued by Central Pollution Control Board published on April 19. It suggested the need for scrutinizing the guidelines for the best practice and experience in all the aspects of scientific disposal of liquid and solid waste management are taken care at the institutional as well as individual level.
Further, the bench addressed the need to re-examine the effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism, including securing information by way of electronic means from the handlers by the state PCBs and Pollution Control Committees by developing necessary software.
They also raised the concern over the requirement of growing awareness by special awareness programmes like organising training in concerned local bodies, health departments, providing workers handling COVID-19 waste with adequate protective gear, adequate coordination with media, and other concerned regulatory authorities.