November 27, 2010

Firm says top hospitals violate biomedical waste disposal norms

As many as 174 private, civic and government hospitals and nursing homes in the city have been found violating norms regarding handling and disposal of biomedical waste by a BMC-appointed firm for the purpose. These include top BMC hospitals such as BYL Nair, Sion Hospital, Kasturba Hospital, state government hospitals such as JJ Hospital and Cama Hospital and high-end private hospitals such as Lilavati, Kokilaben Ambani, Fortis.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, acting on a complaint sent to it earlier this month by the agency handling biomedical waste in the city, has started physical inspection of these hospitals. Those at fault will be served show cause notices and will be liable to strict penalty under the Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998.

Improper segregation of bio-medical waste (BMW) before disposing it into an incinerator can cause emission of highly toxic byproducts, including dioxins, a carcinogen. The list was sent by Sms Envoclean — the firm appointed by the BMC — to the MPCB.

The firm gathers about 12 tonnes of biomedical waste produced from over 1,200 city hospitals daily and treats them at the biomedical incinerator situated within the premises of the Deonar dumping ground. An official from the firm said many hospitals do not carry out the required segregation which hampers the operations in the incinerator that emit dangerous gases. “Plastic IV fluid bottles, body parts, syringes and soiled bandages are all dumped in the same bag instead of being segregated. Almost 90% of the waste comes unsegregated and it becomes impossible for us to segregate it at the plant,” he said.

MPCB regional officer DB Vadde said that as per the law, biomedical waste has to be segregated in ten categories such as human body parts, expired medicines, medical equipment, plastic IV bottles etc. “If such segregation is not done and for instance if plastic is incinerated along with other bio-medical waste, you are sure to produce dioxins. We have received a written complaint from Sms Envoclean and we will verify their claims by inspecting these hospitals ourselves. Four MPCB teams have been formed for this purpose and those hospitals violating norms can face a fine up to Rs 1 lakh and in extreme cases, cancellation of license,” said Vadde.

MPCB had, in August, sent notices to 47 hospitals in the city for similar violations and given them a period of 15 days to rectify their waste disposal system. Vadde said that most hospitals that were served notices started following norms later.

Residents associations in areas close to the Deonar dumping ground have repeatedly protested against the haphazard treatment of BMW at the incinerator without proper air-quality check systems.

Link: Original Article

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