Plans are afoot to set up twin facilities for the scientific treatment and disposal of biomedical waste in the city.

Despite being a hub of health care facilities (HCFs) generating increasingly large quantities of biomedical waste, Kochi does not have a dedicated treatment and disposal facility. The city now depends on the one run by IMAGE (Indian Medical Association Goes Eco-friendly) at Palakkad.

At present, the Common Biomedical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility set up by the Kerala chapter of IMA in 2003 handles the biomedical waste generated by its member HCFs across the State.

“IMAGE and the Kochi chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI) had entered into an agreement in January this year whereby the latter would identify the land and the former would set up the plant. The plant will be ready within a year from the date the plot is made available,” said Abraham Varghese, State joint secretary, IMAGE. CREDAI realised that biomedical waste was being generated in households and apartment complexes and approached IMAGE for a solution.

“We are on the lookout for suitable land and are holding discussions with the corporation and other agencies. IMAGE has agreed to collect biomedical waste from apartment complexes here till the time the plant is ready,” said Najeeb Zakaria, president, Clean City Movement, CREDAI.

Mr. Varghese said that unlike its relatively large facility with a built-up space of 2 lakh sq.ft at Palakkad with the capacity to treat between 17 and 20 tonnes of biomedical waste a day, Ernakulam could do with a smaller facility with the capacity to treat five tonnes a day, reducing the extent of land needed to just about five acres.

Meanwhile, Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Limited (KEIL), which runs Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (CHWTSDF) at Ambalamedu, has submitted a detailed project report to the State government and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) seeking approval to set up an incinerator and autoclave facility for the treatment and disposal of biomedical waste.

“We have the advantage of having land in our possession. We have received a no objection certificate from the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation to set up a facility in our existing campus of 50 acres of which 2.5 acres can be dedicated for it. We are now waiting for the green signal from PCB,” said N.K. Pillai, CEO, KEIL.

KSPCB chairman K. Sajeevan said the proposal was under consideration. KEIL was one of the respondents to the KSPCB’s invitation for an Expression of Interest for setting up a biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility. A presentation of the proposed facility was held before the KSPCB on March 25.

The facility with an estimated cost of about Rs. 4.5 crore will have the capacity to handle 10 to 12 tonnes of waste a day. “The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests provides a subsidy of up to 25 per cent of the total project cost not exceeding Rs. 1 crore provided that subsidy component is matched by the State government,” said Mr. Pillai.

IMAGE, on the other hand, is looking to set up three facilities, one each in south, north, and central Kerala. IMAGE has already bought 30 acres at Palode near Thiruvananthapuram, where the work of the plant will be launched soon.

The plant at Palakkad covers 80,000 beds in HCFs across the State with one in-patient bed generating on an average 1.5 kg of biomedical waste a day. Transportation of biomedical waste from across the State to Palakkad is the biggest challenge since the Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1998 stipulates that the biomedical waste generated should be treated within 48 hours.

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