They either bury or burn the non-biomedical waste

The waste collection efforts of the City Corporation might finally have started improving with the thrust towards decentralised waste treatment using biogas plants and pipe-compost units, but some of the hospitals in the city are facing challenges in effectively dumping the non-biomedical waste generated there daily.

Following the closure of the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant, waste collection from the hospitals has ceased, forcing them to go in for unsustainable alternatives like burying the waste.

‘Huge burden’

“Earlier, the Kudumbasree volunteers used to collect all the food waste. As the Corporation has stopped those services, we are now burying most of this waste in unused land. It is a huge effort to clear up the food from each ward. Also, we need to employ extra workers and hire vehicles to collect and bury the waste,” says K.E. Elizabeth, Superintendent of the SAT Hospital.

The situation is no different at the Government Medical College Hospital here, where waste is similarly buried within the compound.

Space crunch

Medical College councillor S. Sreekumar says that his ward where some of the major hospitals in the city are situated urgently needs space to set up a biogas plant.

“The incinerator which was set up around three years ago at the SAT hospital stopped working within a year. The one at RCC, which was installed nine months ago, is working fine. The medical college hospital will soon run out of land to bury the waste as enormous quantities are being produced everyday. The Corporation had looked for space to set up a biogas plant in the ward, but space has been a problem,” says Mr. Sreekumar.

Pattom ward councillor K. Murukesan also echoed these views. According to him, many of the private hospitals in his ward are now burning the waste daily in land that they have bought for the purpose.

“The Pattoor model is something which we can replicate in other areas. In my ward, we had zeroed in on a few areas like P.T. Chacko Nagar and the unused land near the Milma Bhavan. But this did not take off as expected,” says Mr. Murukesan.

Mayor K. Chandrika says that the local body is helpless as the State government is yet to sanction the proposal for 62 high-capacity biogas plants.

‘Corporation helpless’

“We have already set up a biogas plant at the General Hospital. Also, the hospitals have to make their own arrangements to treat waste. The proposal for the 62 biogas plants has been with the government for the past six months. How can we collect all the waste without a proper arrangement to process it,” asks Ms. Chandrika.

The biomedical wastes from the city hospitals are now being transported to the IMAGE (Indian Medical Association Goes Eco-friendly) Common Biomedical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility set up by the Kerala chapter of IMA in 2003 in Palakkad. “We spend around Rs.85,000 every month to clear the biomedical waste,” says Ms. Elizabeth.