The curious math of Telangana's missing biomedical waste

Waste from 12,755 hospital beds does not reach treatment plants, says data. Then, where does it all end-up?

Published: 20th March 2018 04:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2018 08:31 AM   |  A+A-

(Illustration by Amit Bandre)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Believe it or not, a good number of health care facilities are yet to be covered by the four Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facilities (CBMWTF) authorized by Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) to collect waste from Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts. This means, a good chunk of hazardous waste, capable of creating serious health issues, is likely being disposed in an unscientific manner. A cursory reading of the Bio-Medical Waste Management (BMW) rules that came into existence two years ago has exposed various loopholes in the system.

According to the pollution control board, there is a total of 51,775 beds in health care facilities across Hyderabad, Rangareddy-I(RR-I) and Rangareddy-II(RR-II) divisions. According to data available on the websites of these CBMWTFs, waste from about 39,000 beds are collected by these units combined. This means 12,755 beds are not covered under these facilities, which raises doubts on where thousands of kilograms of waste generated by these beds end up. 

Moreover, 51,755 beds listed with TSPCB are with 1,534 health care facilities in Hyderabad and Rangareddy; of this, 612 are in Hyderabad, 352 in RR-I and 570 in RR-2. However, as per figures obtained from Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) which covers only a part of neighbouring Rangareddy and Medchal districts, there are 2,240 health care facilities registered with it. TSPCB officials claimed this was due to difference in areas covered by under TSPCB (in Hyderabad, RR-I and RR-II) and GHMC. 

Small-sized biomedical waste treatment facilities lament lack of a uniform policy on per-bed-pricing charged by CBMWTFs and also lack of guidelines as to how many beds a CBMWTF can cover. Bharat Kumar Reddy, head of operations and management at Sattva Global Services said, “As per the Rules, total time from generation of waste till treatment should not exceed 48 hours.

However, as some older biomedical waste treatment facilities are offering treatment services at cheaper prices, even health care facilities located very far from the treatment plants are giving away their waste to them. As a result, time-period set by the Rules are violated.  

Also, in many cases, transportation of biomedical waste occurs during peak traffic hours which is also a violation of the rules.” Sattva Global Services was started about a year ago and provides biomedical waste treatment services for around 50 health care facilities. Bharat Kumar also alleged that the older treatment facilities sometimes offer services free of costs for some beds as they are collecting more waste than they can handle. 

When contacted, a TSPCB official said, “The board is working on developing a policy on prices that can be charged by CBMWTFs and area to be covered. Earlier when the board demarcated area of operation for CBMWTFs, one of them approached the High Court which struck down the board’s order because the BMW Rules does not give the board powers to demarcate area. However, keeping in mind problems raised by some CBMWTFs, we are seeking legal advice on the matter and have also written to the Central Pollution Control Board to provide more clarity.”

New recruitment strengthens TSPCB manpower
Hyderabad: Telangana State Pollution Control Board on Monday inducted 23 newly recruited Environment Engineers. Soon, 25 newly recruited technical staff will also be inducted by the board who would strengthen the manpower in the board’s laboratories. With the new inductees overall strength of the board will become 158, of the sanctioned strength of 210 engineers and technical staff.

Government to frame solid  waste management policy
The state government will formulate solid waste management rules shortly, principal secretary to the municipal administration department Arvind Kumar has said and called for a comprehensive survey of rag-pickers so that local bodies can utilise them in solid waste management. Presiding over state-level advisory board meeting held at the Secretariat on Monday, he said that Administrative Staff College of India was asked to draft solid waste management policy guidelines in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Arvind Kumar asked the PCB to inspect shopping malls, function  halls, hotels and hospitals to find out what steps were taken by them for segregation and storage of solid waste, and to submit a report at the earliest.  He also directed GHMC officials to obtain a list of abandoned quarries from the mining department for considering their possible use as dumping yards.


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