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Medical waste piles up, trash timebomb ticks

Source:: The Times of India, New Delhi, June 12, 2017

NEW DELHI: With the number of healthcare facilities increasing, Delhi has seen a steep rise in biomedical waste generation in the past few years. However, lack of proper disposal of hospital trash can pose serious risks to people's health and environment, warn experts.
According to a report, the capital used to generate 10 tonnes of medical trash per day in 2010. This figure is believed to have touched 100 tonnes per day in the past seven years.
A surprise inspection by Delhi's environment minister Imran Hussain, along with members of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), last week at M/S Biotic Waste Solutions Pvt Ltd - one of the city's two licensed biomedical waste treatment plants - exposed blatant violations of the prescribed norms. They found that rules pertaining to collection, receipt, storage, disposal and handling of biomedical waste were openly flouted at this facility.
Similar violations were noticed at the other treatment plant, SMS Water Grace Pvt Ltd in Nilothi, during an inspection by NGO Toxics Link in January 2016. The latter said two days of waste was found lying untreated because its boiler was not working.
The NGO said in its report that glass bottles kept in hypochlorite (1%) solution were found to be capped, thus not getting disinfected and some of the bottles were contaminated with blood too. "Since, these are not getting disinfected and are sent directly to the recycler, it increases the chances of re-usage and thus the risk of infection," the report stated.

Satish Sinha, associate director at Toxics Link, said improper implementation of norms still remains a concern in the capital. "The two facilities have a capacity to handle the load being generated in Delhi, but the efficiency remains a problem. If the machines don't function, then excess waste gets accumulated. Similarly, a lot of healthcare units are still not following the proper norms, which may result in the biomedical waste getting mixed up with normal waste and pose a health risk to waste pickers," added Sinha.

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