Coronavirus | Mounting bio medical waste poses a challenge in Mumbai, Pune

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) laid down on segregation and disposal

The rising number of COVID-19 patients in Maharashtra has presented another challenge to civic bodies in major cities on dealing with disposal of bio-medical waste, which has also increased substantially.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has seen a spike in the number of cases with around 6,82,102 positive patients since 2020. The financial capital produces around 22 to 23 MT biomedical waste every day.

“We have given the responsibility to SMS Envoclean as bio-medical waste treatment facilitator and operator. The company has its established plant near Deonar dumping ground,” said an official associated with the BMC’s solid waste department. The company has been working with the civic body since 2009.

Logistics and human resources

The Deonar plant has a capacity to treat 24 to 25 MT bio-medical waste per day. The plant is monitored by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). “The company is responsible for collecting bio-medical waste from all medical institutions within the jurisdiction of the BMC. Logistics and human resources required for the same is provided by Envoclean. The BMC has no role to play except for monitoring,” the officer said.

To cope with this increasing sanitation and hygiene problem, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has released a list of standard operating procedures (SOPs) on segregation and disposal of this waste. It has contracted a private agency, Passco Environmental Solutions, to facilitate the disposal.

As per the norms issued by the civic body, the PMC-run as well as private hospitals are mandated to spray 1% sodium hypochlorite on the garbage and hand it over in a yellow bag to the waste collectors.

Authorities said more than 300 kg of waste daily is being picked up, which includes disposable plates, water bottles and other articles used by patients at homes, COVID care centres and other hospitals.

The waste is collected through seven vehicles with GPRS tracking systems from 400 collection points across Pune.

Colour-coded bags

The waste is collected in three colour-coded bags — yellow (for incineration), red (shredding or recycling or landfill) and white (sharp and glass material) — that are chemically treated and sent to the hazardous treatment plant at Ranjangaon on the outskirts of Pune.

Patients in home isolation have been asked to separate wet and dry garbage and spray it with sodium hypochlorite before handing it over to the waste-collector, as per the SOPs.

Many housing societies in Pune have tied up with SWaCH — a cooperative of self-employed waste collectors.

The city has 26,000-odd patients while Pimpri-Chinchwad has nearly 20,000 Covid-19 cases.

The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), too, has made mandatory the use of yellow-coloured bags for collection of all waste generated by COVID-19 patients.

There is also an arrangement for collection of tissues and face masks from quarantined homes, with instructions that such waste is not to be mixed with the general waste.

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