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Delhi cracks down on biomedical waste

Hazardous medical waste that needs to be carefully disposed of by incineration. Items include clinical waste such as used syringes and needles, used swabs, plasters and bandages. Used drug blister packs and ampules. Biomedical waste is potentially infectious.The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has ordered the closure of 32 facilities over improper disposal of biomedical waste – highlighting a major pollution and sanitation issue affecting India. 

Earlier this year, it was reported that hospitals in Delhi were behind schedule in adhering to the Union Environment Ministry’s guidelines concerning proper management of biomedical waste. At the time, it was reported that only ten hospitals in Delhi were in the process of being registered under the Bio-medical Waste Management Rules. Medical waste in Delhi is typically sent to one of two biomedical waste management plants in the capital for scientific disposal; the DPCC is inviting tenders to establish additional facilities in the national capital.

Following reports of scant compliance with the regulations, it was subsequently reported that the DPCC had identified as many as 56 facilities in potential violation of the regulations and had ordered the closure of twelve facilities for continued failure to comply with the regulations. Now 32 closures have been ordered, with twelve facilities having already being shuttered. An official has stated that facilities are additionally being ordered to pay fines of between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 24 lakh. 

The public discourse surrounding pollution often neglects medical waste, despite it being a sizeable issue. India generates 550.9 tonnes of medical waste every day. A single hospital bed produces between one and two kilograms of biomedical waste on a daily basis, while clinic beds can generate 600 grams each day. 

The nation’s output of medical waste is anticipated to increase sizeably in the coming years, with a growth rate of seven percent annually. This necessitates proper management and treatment of such waste; in 2016, 37 tonnes of medical waste went untreated each day. Vigilance by authorities and regulators is key in making sure that medical waste is properly taken care of. To this end, cohesion between central, state, and district authorities for the uniform of enforcement of medical waste management rules and to prevent damage to public health and wellbeing from preventable lapses in sanitation and waste management. 

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