Prelims level : Environment - Pollution & Waste Management. Mains level : GS-III Conservation, Environmental pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
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Why in News?

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recently issued a directive for states and Union Territories to take adequate steps to mitigate risks in disposal of bio-medical waste in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Earlier, the Karnataka High Court has also directed the Karnataka Government to take special measures to protect sanitation workers while they collect waste from houses where persons subjected to home quarantine reside.

Key Points:

  • The NGT raised concerns regarding unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste by un-authorised healthcare facilities. Only 1.1 lakh out of 2.7 lakh healthcare facilities are authorised under the Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 so far.
  • The NGT asked the State Pollution Control Boards and pollution control committees to make efforts to bridge this gap to mitigate the risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste.
  • Directions of the court:
  • Waste should be picked up from quarantine homes in a separate vehicle. Waste from households under quarantine should be put in yellow non-chlorinated plastic bags, and be treated as biomedical waste.
  • Once collected, these waste must be disposed of, as per the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • Sanitation workers and vehicle drivers should be provided with the necessary safety gear, such as gloves, goggles and gowns.

About Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016:

  • Objective: The objective of the rules is to properly manage the per day bio-medical waste from healthcare facilities (HCFs) across the country.
  • Ambit: The ambit of the rules has been Expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity.
  • Definition of Biomedical waste: It was defined as human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus like needles, syringes and other materials used in health care facilities in the process of treatment and research. This waste is generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunisation in hospitals, nursing homes, pathological laboratories, blood bank, etc.
  • Phase out: Use of chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags to be phased out within two years from March 2016.
  • Pre-treatment: Pre-treatment of the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on-site in the manner prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) or by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
  • Training: All health care workers to be provided training and immunization regularly.
  • Bar-code: A Bar-Code System for bags or containers containing bio-medical waste for disposal will be established.
  • Categorisation: Bio-medical waste has been classified into 4 categories instead of the earlier 10 categories to improve the segregation of waste at source.
  • Stringent standards for pollutants: The rules prescribe more stringent standards for incinerators to reduce the emission of pollutants in the environment.
  • Land: The State Government provides the land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facilities.
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