Guidelines for medical waste

Published: Monday 31 March 2003

Streamlining waste management< (Credit: Amit Shanker / CSE)centralised medical waste management facilities will soon have to meet certain stipulated criteria. The Central Pollution Control Board is in the process of issuing guidelines, which will be ready for enforcement within a periiod of six months.

A draft of the proposed steps was finalised during the cpcb's recently organised meeting at Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. "The majority of such units are currently following different treatment methods for waste disposal," reveals G K Mendiratta, environmental engineer with cpcb. "In some places, only incinerators are being used, while autoclaves serve the purpose in others." "We need to promote the right mix of technologies," he adds.

Experts opine that the proposed measures are timely, as 54 centralised facilities are coming up in the country and these need to be monitored closely. The guidelines will comprise details regarding the siting plan of centralised facilities, their coverage area, the type of technology to be used for waste treatment, emissions from equipments and the nature of contracts to be signed with private operators, says Mendiratta.

Environmentalists feel that these centralised facilities would go a long way in effective management of medical waste. "It is a well documented fact that treatment of medical waste at a central facility is beneficial -- both environmentally and economically," says Ravi Agarwal, coordinator of Srishti, a New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation. He adds: "Monitoring such facilities is also easy. One such centralised facility can treat the waste of 10,000 beds with an investment of Rs 1 crore. This cost can come down to Rs 60-70 lakh if waste is autoclaved rather than being incinerated."

Experts aver that the proposed guidelines would check the indiscriminate burning of waste. Other benefits include state pollution control boards having to inspect fewer facilities, hospitals not needing to bother about final waste disposal and private operators getting to make profits.

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