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Tardy progress on disposal measures

BANGALORE is in a better position compared to other parts of the State when it comes to implementation of an action plan on bio-medical waste management. The action plan was submitted by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to the Lok Adalat a couple of months ago.

The action plan listed the steps to be taken by various departments generating bio-medical waste along with status of private sector. Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) to treat and dispose liquid biomedical waste were not installed in 11 of the 26 government medical colleges-cum-hospitals. 

However, these hospitals are now in various stages of setting up ETPs or sewage treatment plants. Some of these medical colleges include Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubli, VIMS, Bellary, Belgaum Institute of Medical Sciences, etc, with KSPCB setting December 31, 2011, as the deadline.  

Four private hospitals with over 100 beds and as many as 338 smaller hospitals in the state, have been been found not linked to any common biomedical waste treatment facility (CBMWTF) to dispose the solid waste.  There were defaulters even among clinics, diagnostic and pathology labs and blood banks, which are required to send solid waste to the CBMWTF. 

Five of the 14 CBMWTFs run by private companies have been asked by KSPCB to upgrade as per the guideline Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).  

“The progress has been happening but it has been slow and steady. We are regulators of Biomedical Waste Management Rules and we kept pursuing. But Lok Adalat’s order kept us and the healthcare facilities on our toes,” says M S Goudar, member-secretary, KSPCB.

Incidentally, KSPCB has issued over 3,000 show-cause notices in the last two years to various health care facilities in the state, out of which, more than 500 notices were issued in Bangalore alone.     

“In Bangalore, compliance with guidelines is much better. But there have been cases with small hospitals in other parts of the state, which have burnt or mixed the biomedical waste with the other waste,” Goudar informs. Since doctors and nurses were not ignorant or uneducated, the adherence to rules and lesser contamination should be practiced, he feels. 

Now with the action plan, KSPCB has asked all the non-complying hospitals to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the nearest common treatment facilities by March, 2011. In case the hospitals do not have any common facility nearby, they would have to make arrangements for captive facilities (burying in deep pits with needles to be buried in sharp pits) within early next year. 

KSPCB has sanctioned three new CBMWTFs in Hassan, Hoskote and Bellary bringing the total strength of common treatment plants to 17. However, three districts – Karwar, Kolar and Koppal – do not have a CBMWTF.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 22nd January, 2011)

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