Only half of the total bio-medical waste generated in the country is treated according to rules while the rest is dumped with municipal solid waste, posing a risk to environment and human health, according to a recent study.

Out of 42,0461 kg/day of waste generation, only 24,0682 kg is treated and as many as 14,959 hospitals have been served show cause notices as defaulters, according to the report prepared by Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow.

“Presently 50 per cent - 55 per cent of bio-medical wastes is collected, segregated and treated as per Bio-medical Waste Management Rules. Rest is dumped with municipal solid wastes,” it says.

Out of 84,809 hospitals, only 48,183 are either using common bio-medical waste treatment facilities (which are 170 in number) or have engaged private agencies.

Giving details of the facilities at the hospital, the study points out that there are 391 incinerators, 2,562 autoclaves, 458 microwaves, 145 hydroclaves and 6,047 shredders in operation.

Generally bio-medical waste is classified into infectious waste and non-infectious waste categories. If infectious waste is not disposed off scientifically, it could contaminate non-infectious waste, threatening local community.

The Biomedical Waste Management Act, 1998, mandates hospitals to handle their wastes in an environmentally and scientifically sound manner.

The IIM which conducted the study on behalf of the environment ministry to evaluate the performance of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) points out that number of Common Bio-medical Wastes Treatment Facility (CBMWTF) has to be increased manifold.

The incineration of infectious medical wastes is mandatory for hospitals in the country, but many hospitals either do not have this facility or the machines are lying idle.

“Presently there are 157 facilities which are not adequate to handle all bio medical wastes generated. CBMWTF is to be set-up under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode,” the report says.

Stressing that new technologies have to be promoted for destruction of toxic bio-medical wastes, it says the government is developing plasma technology for incinerating 50 tonnes per hour of biomedical waste.

With a rise in healthcare facilities and hospitals, the Central Pollution Control Board has set a target to treat 17,9779 kg/d of bio-medical waste by 2012 and adequate common facilities to treat the total waste generated in each state by 2022, the study adds.

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