Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environmental group, has requested the Tamil Nadu government that a few more recommendations, in addition to the regulations released by the Central Pollution Control Board for disposal of medical, and other waste used in treating COVID-19, be considered.
It has demanded that the government should set up at least one Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility (CBMWTF) per district immediately.
“According to TNPCB, nearly 47 tonnes of medical waste are produced every day. But the facilities in the 11 CBMWTF are restricted to handling only up to 34 tonnes of waste. The current facility in Chennai can only handle up to 25% of the total medical waste generated every day. The remaining of the medical waste are not disposed of properly and are usually dumped as landfill without any proper precautions and the mixing of these medical waste with the municipal solid waste has become a routine in the recent times,” the group said.
The environmental group also said medical waste from COVID-19 centres and quarantine homes be supervised and sent to treatment facilities in the same manner medical waste from hospitals, clinics and labs are supervised and handled.
“The government should make sure PPE kits, face masks, safety goggles, Nitrile gloves, splash proof apron Hazmat suit are provided to all the workers who are handling corona medical waste and also supervise the disposal of these kits,” they said.
The group said at present most of the incinerator facilities do not meet the requirements as mentioned by the CPCB. In the current COVID-19 situation, it is important that these incinerators are able to burn the waste at the prescribed temperaturs and emit smoke through 30 metre exhaust pipes, they said.
The group also demanded that TNPCB publish data regarding the medical waste zone-wise, provision of proper safety equipment for medical professionals, training of medical and sanitation workers in handling COVID-19 medical waste, provide transparent communication on PCR kits, rapid testing kits, gloves, masks used by doctors that were disposed of in the last 70 days, putting in place a barcode system to monitor disposal of medical waste.
“In the financial budget 2019-20, of the Tamil Nadu government, ₹7,000 crore has been allocated for solid-waste management. A significant part of the amount should be allocated for building facilities to handle and dispose of medical waste,” the group said adding that TNPCB should make stringent rules to punish violators including cutting off electricity of those who dump bio-medical waste without following procedures.