Biomedical waste management in Chandigarh: PGIMER not allowed to replace incinerators | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Biomedical waste management in Chandigarh: PGIMER not allowed to replace incinerators

For the last 19 years, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has been treating the incinerable bio-medical waste of almost all health centres in the city. But the decades-long practice will come to an end soon, as the ‘worn-out’ incinerators need replacement, but the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) has not given the consent. 

punjab Updated: Nov 30, 2016 19:43 IST
Tanbir Dhaliwal
PGIMER

(HT File Photo)

For the last 19 years, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has been treating the incinerable bio-medical waste of almost all health centres in the city. But the decades-long practice will come to an end soon, as the ‘worn-out’ incinerators need replacement, but the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) has not given the consent. 

The two incinerators were installed in 1997 with a shelf-life of ten years, but even now the old machines continue to be used after repeated refurbishments. As per officials, they require immediate replacement, but the CPCC did not give permission. 

“As per the new rules of environment ministry, no incinerator is allowed within the periphery of 75km of Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF),” an official from CPCC said, “We have already given permission to a company to set up CBMWTF in the industrial area,” he added.

PGIMER has already spent crores on its maintenance. “The incinerators have undergone four major renovations. Each time, we spent `40-50 lakh. Apart from this, every year, minor renovations are done twice or thrice,” said an official from PGIMER.

Two incinerators were installed in 1997 with a shelf-life of ten years, but even now old machines continue to be used

In 1996, CPCC gave consent to PGIMER to run the two incinerators for 15 years. From the last four years, PGIMER officials have been getting approval per year from CPCC to run the incinerators. 

“CPCC had given us permission for one year but environment department denied the permission. In 2016, PGI again applied for consent, but this time, CPCC did not give the permission.”

“The officials are saying that the permission was denied because a common bio-medical waste treatment facility is coming. But we are hearing this from the last several years. What if it does not come in the next one year? ” he asked.

How is the waste managed now
  • Daily, more than 1,200 kg incinerable waste is burnt at PGI 
  • Each of the two incinerators at the PGI has the capacity to burn 170 kg incinerable waste per hour
  • PGI produces more than 1300 kg biomedical waste daily, out of which above 800 kg incinerable
  • Apart from this, PGI gets incinerable waste from Government Medical College and Hospital-Sector 32 which is around 300 kg, all private health care centres which contribute more than 150 kg, Panjab University sends around 5 kg, for which PGI charges incineration cost of Rs 62 per kg.
  • At times, GMSH-16 also sends its waste to PGI.

Private firm gets nod to establish waste incinerators

After the “failure” of UT administration to construct their own Common Biomedical Waste treatment facility, the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) has given clearance to a private company. Few administrators have accused the CPCC of “favouring” the company.

Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee has given the permission to Alliance Envirocare Company Private Limited for establishment of incinerator, which will treat the extinguishable biomedical waste of the city.

“The file is now with the environment department for clearance. Once the company gets clearance; the owner will install the incinerators and then will apply for consent to operate,” said an official from CPCC.

“To begin with the company has been given the permission to install one incinerator with the capacity of 200 kg per hour,” said the official.

After the facility becomes functional, the current incinerators functional at the PGIMER and GMSH-16 will be closed.

Years of planning of some officials of the UT administration came to naught, as the authorities failed to construct the facility in Chandigarh. 

There are guidelines of the Union ministry of environment and forests, as per which states should have a common biomedical waste treatment facility.

More than five years ago, UT administration had decided to set up the common plant. “Detailed plan was made, tenders were issued and one-acre land in Daddumajra was also allotted, but at the last moment, Shivraj Patil, then UT administrator denied to give land to a private party,” said an official.

Nothing was finalised by the administration, so far. 

Decision a personal favour: UT Officials

“They should have either called for the E-tender or expression of interest to have wide publicity for the stakeholders who could set up common biomedical waste facility. But no such method has been adopted,” said a member of the high committee, constituted in the past for setting up the biomedical waste plant, under the chairmanship of former home secretary Ram Niwas.

“When environment clearance is not there, what is the hurry to give permission?” he asked. “It is a personal favour to the company. Earlier, only this company was promoted to pick up the bio-medical waste from private centres,” alleged the official.

When contacted, the owner of Alliance Envirocare company was not available for comment.