With bio-medical waste, city faces burning question
Used syringes, blood vials and body tissue lie scattered at the Deonar dump in Chembur, one of the most polluted suburbs in the city.mumbai Updated: Apr 21, 2010 00:58 IST
Used syringes, blood vials and body tissue lie scattered at the Deonar dump in Chembur, one of the most polluted suburbs in the city.
In November, the BMC began closing this landfill; it expects the process will take two years.
And it continues to incinerate between 1 and 12 tonnes of bio-medical waste in plastic bags brought in from various hospitals in the city, according to the guidelines of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.
This practise is carcinogenic, say environmentalists such as Dr Sandip Rane, a cardiologist.
It is the worst disposal option because burning plastic releases more carbon dioxide than burning coal or gas, according to a recent study by WRAP, a UK-based environmental think thank. In contrast, many Western countries use plasma pyrolysis, which involves a torch’s electrodes generating an ionised gas called plasma, which is gentle on the environment.
Two months ago, Sameer Kulkarni, (20) developed mild speech problems. “Doctors said it was caused by air pollution,” said the college student and aspiring singer.
But the pollution regulator claims there is no way to dispose of biomedical waste other than in plastic bags. “There is no other technology available in India yet,” said BB Wade, the environmental regulator’s regional officer for Mumbai.
Last year, another Chembur resident, Mario Fernandes (44) filed a petition in the high court, saying bio-medical waste incineration violates the central Environment Pollution Act.
Last month the pollution control agency issued show cause notices to 72 city hospitals for this lapse. “Some companies that collect bio-medical waste complained that these hospitals were not segregating waste,” said Ajay Phulmali, the board’s regional officer for bio-medical waste.
Hospitals are supposed to segregate waste in colour-coded plastic bags — body tissue in yellow bags, syringes and blood vials in red ones.