PCB rings alarm bells over bio-medical waste 'mismanagement' by JK hospitals

PCB rings alarm bells over bio-medical waste 'mismanagement' by JK hospitals

Over 1000 health facilities not following rules: Board

J&K Pollution Control Board (JKPCB) has served notices to over 1000 health facilities in state for failing to comply with the bio-medical waste management regulations and disposing off dangerous medical waste from hospitals and laboratories in unscientific manner, which is posing “serious threat” to health and environment.

Sources said the health facilities which have been put on alert range from Primary Health Centers to tertiary care hospitals, both in Kashmir and Jammu. The sources said. the facilities had been found failing to comply with the provisions of section 21 of Air and Water Pollution Act and Bio-medical Waste Management Rules 2016.

As per these rules, the hospitals are required to have waste treatment facilities such as sewage/affluent treatment plants and lack of mechanism to dispose-off the bio-medical waste. However, officials in the PCB said that most healthcare facilities were even running without consent to establish and operate a health center from the issuing authority.

“The health facilities even in some hospitals as large as District Hospitals have been allowed to run with not even segregation bins in place. The health authorities have shown complacence of a criminal level towards waste segregation and disposal,” a senior PCB official said. He added that although some hospitals have started working on their waste management, most have been “paying no attention” to the repeated notices from the PCB.

Recently, National Green Tribunal had also reprimanded JK government and directed it to file a comprehensive report about the status of infrastructure and practices vis-à-vis bio-medical waste management in state.  It had also sought action against the erring hospitals and filing of an affidavit stating that “collection, transportation and disposal of the bio-medical waste by different hospitals.”

Following NGT directions, a team consisting of officials from Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Board and representatives of various hospitals had been constituted to compile a report regarding the matter. Reportedly, the team had found and recorded the gross deficiencies in bio-medical waste management and focused on how in absence of mechanism, waste water and solid waste generated from hospitals and potential hazard to human life, was being dumped in water bodies.

Sources in the PCB said even the common bio-medical waste management plants were found to have “shortcomings” and had been directed to make amendments and upgrade the facilities.

In June 2016, Legislative Committee on Environment headed by G M Saroori had pulled up Health and Medical Education Department for failure in establishing Common Bio-Medical Waste Treatment Facility (CBMWTF) which was to be established by utilizing NRHM sanctioned funds. The committee had expressed displeasure over the wastage of opportunity to utilize GoI funds to ‘upgrade the poor common bio-medical waste treatment and management in the state.’

The committee had also taken a serious note of the complaints of legislators and committee members wherein they had pointed out that bio-medical waste and other solid wastes were being ‘thrown’ into Nallahs.

The bio-medical waste, broadly comprising of waste generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunization in hospitals, nursing homes, pathological laboratories, blood bank etc, has been a ignored “calamity in making” in state.