No safe disposal of bio-medical waste in Govt hospitals

Hospital waste continues to risk health and well being in the state while JK pollution control board (PCB), that has the mandate of ensuring safe disposal of biomedical waste, fails dismally in pulling up hospitals and other establishments failing to put in steps for its safe disposal.

On Wednesday, a review meeting regarding the implementation of National Green Tribunal directions regarding biomedical waste management (BMW) in J&K was convened by state advisory committee on biomedical waste management and handling. An official, who was privy to the proceedings, said that PCB officials acknowledged in the meeting that no Action Taken Report regarding bio-medical waste disposal in state hospitals had been submitted to central pollution control board since 2017.

He said that PCB cited the reason for the failure as ‘non-cooperation’ from State hospitals regarding furnishing of their respective annual reports. However, the official said, the Board was asked by the advisory committee to ‘do more than shoot letters’ to the hospitals. The official said that over 90 percent of hospitals and healthcare facilities had not submitted any compliance report to PCB for years. “However, on ground, no action has been taken against these establishments resulting in laxity towards safe disposal of BMW,” he said.

Another official said that dearth of BMW incinerators was a major challenge in safe disposal of this life-threatening waste. There are only two waste incinerators in Kashmir, one located in Lassipora Pulwama and other in Lasjan in the peripheries of Srinagar. The physical inaccessibility and lack of resources, the official said, was the main reason for non-compliance of the rules.

“In J&K, most healthcare establishments have no means and funds to safely dispose-off the waste, he said while stating that the capacity of the only two incinerators here was not adequate to fulfill the requirement of the quantum of waste generated in hospital. He added that Leh, Kargil, Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Kupwara and many other districts, waste is either buried or dumped in open sites.

“However, PCB officials might never have visited these places to see how BMW is being thrown in streams at these places,” he said.

Principal secretary health and medical education, Atal Dulloo, who is the chairman of the BMW Advisory Committee, said there was a “communication gap” between hospitals and PCB. “We have directed PCB to bridge the gap and play a better role in helping hospitals devise better mechanisms for BMW waste management,” he said. He added that the Board had also been directed to ensure completion of Action Taken report by July this year and prevent default for another year.

Member secretary PCB, BM Sharma, agreed that the compliance of hospitals regarding BMW was “not satisfactory”. However, he said, the Board teams were carrying out “regular visits/inspections” to healthcare establishments to monitor the compliance.