HYDERABAD: The surge in Covid cases has also led to a multifold increase in biomedical waste produced in the city. According to the data received by the Telangana Pollution Control Board (TSPCB), till last year, an average of 800 kgs to 1 metric tonne of biomedical waste collected from the city everyday. However, this year, it has increased to 1.2 to 3 metric tonnes daily.
As per the government guidelines, hazardous waste has to be disposed of scientifically, without risking the environment and human health. While government officials claim there is no cause of concern, the reality seems to be different.
Speaking to Express, a TSPCB official from the Biomedical Waste Management Department, said, “Everything is being monitored properly. We have complete information on where Covid patients live and based on it, workers are collecting the waste as per the CPCB guidelines. The waste is also being disposed in a scientific manner.”
However, when Express spoke to Covid patients who were are in home isolation in various parts of the city, they had a different story. “Four members in our family tested positive almost a week ago, and because our symptoms were mild, all of us opted for home quarantine. Soon, after we tested positive we stopped throwing our waste in the common area hoping that the municipality will reach out to us. But, till now that has not happened. Eventually, we were forced to throw our waste along with the everyday waste. However, we are not throwing the waste immediately, so that it will not affect the garbage collectors,” said 45-year-old, Naveen (name changed on request), who lives in Banjara hills.
Another couple, who were in a home quarantine in the Begumpet area, said that they did not even get a call from any State officials asking if they were in home isolation. “After we tested positive, our society people asked us not to leave the garbage outside. So for days, it was kept inside our homes, and later we had to give it to our caregivers to throw it in another area, as no one from the Sanitation Department ever came to collect our garbage. We are scared for others,” said 31-year-old Meenal (name changed). Many other Covid patients narrated similar accounts.
When asked, the workers from the State Mazdoor Unions, who are part of the GHMC Sanitation Department, why biomedical waste was not being collected from house of patients, they said, unlike last year, this time they did not have information about containment zones and houses which have Covid patients.
“We are regularly collecting garbage from all areas, there are masks, PPEs, injections, and other medical waste everywhere. The Sanitation Department officials told us that soon they will make a list of containment areas and will give us, but till now that has not happened,” said a sanitation worker. Multiple attempts by Express to reach out to the GHMC officials over the issue, turned out futile.