Even as the project was inaugurated on Monday, he asks for a relook at criteria for implementation

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s (UNIDO) project to reduce Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) from biomedical waste in the State was inaugurated on Monday, even as chairperson of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) Vaman Acharya openly criticised the project.

Dr. Acharya, speaking after inaugurating the project, said he was not sure if the project should be implemented in the State as medical waste management (segregation and treatment) was in a much better state here.

“This project is of no use in our State because we have gone much ahead in medical waste management. I had said this in the past too. Please take a relook at the criteria on the basis of which the States are selected for the project and give us a clear proposal on what has to be done,” Dr. Acharya told the visiting UNIDO officials.

The project titled ‘Environmental sound management of medical waste’ has been launched in Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab.

Although during his address, Dr. Acharya said the project would take off on Monday, he later told The Hindu that he would take a call on its implementation after the UNIDO officials give a detailed framework on what has to be done.

Referring to the garbage disposal crisis in Bangalore, Dr. Acharya said: “When we have dead dogs and other carcass thrown in garbage dumps on the roads, what is the problem in also having placenta in the dump? I do not say this can be allowed, but what I mean is when the city’s garbage (general waste) itself can do so much harm, I fail to understand how biomedical waste can generate higher POP,” he reiterated.

“To be part of the project, the State has to pay 20 per cent of the Rs. 40-crore project. The payment has to be shared between the pollution board, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the State Health Department. From our side, we have to pay Rs. 1.25 crore. My question is do we need the project when our hospitals have already invested so much in setting up biomedical effluent treatment plants,” he asked.

Danger of black ash

In his presentation, S.P. Dhua, Regional Coordinator of UNIDO, said the required 1,000 degrees Celsius temperature is not maintained in most incinerators as a result of which poisonous gases such as dioxin and furan are emitted from the treatment plants.

“We have surveyed several treatment plants and have found black ash in all the incinerators. This emission causes cancer, hormonal imbalance, deformities in children apart from renal problems. This project is to shift from burn technology to non-burn technology,” he explained.

Linda Gavan, project manager of UNIDO, said the $ 40 million project will be implemented in five years. While $ 10 million will be funded through the Global Environment Facility, the rest will be raised through co-financing.

M. Subha Rao, Director MoEF, and D.R. Kumaraswamy, KSPCB Chief Environmental Officer, made presentations on the implementation of the biomedial waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, at the national and State-level, respectively.