An audit report by the state Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out serious shortcomings in the working of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) with regards to disposal of bio-medical waste from health care establishments across the state, with the report claiming that the board had not even taken a single sample of liquid bio-medical waste for testing for the past six years across 3,176 such establishments in the state.
The report, tabled in the budget session of the state assembly, also slams the PPCB for not even compiling any information about the bio-medical waste generating points and inability to fix norms for inspection of such institutions and for having no data on Common Bio Medical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF) operators.
In fact, the report notes that only 245 establishments have had their presence registered with the PPCB, with 60 per cent of such establishments working without valid authorisation.
The CAG states that six out of 14 regional offices of the PPCB did not have any agreement with CBWTF operators and remaining eight regional offices of the board did not supply information about the state of bio-medical waste management during the audit.
“These establishments have been working without an effluent treatment plant and without any authorisation from 2009-2014,” the report says, adding that there were serious shortcomings in processes of segregation, collection and transportation of bio-medical waste, lack of training to officials and shortage of staff to inspect these sites.
When contacted, PPCB chairman Manpreet Singh said he was not aware of the CAG report and would look into the matter.
“The board has a separate wing to deal with the issue of bio-medical waste in the state and there are designated officials for the purpose. There is no shortage of funds to run these operations,” he said.
However, the CAG report does make it a point to mention that the state government has failed to provide dedicated funds to deal with the disposal of bio-medical waste.
Findings of the CAG report
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) does not even have a comprehensive list of health care establishments in the state
Only 8% of government health centres follow any bio-medical waste treatment rules and 60% of such establishments have no valid authorisation
Dedicated funds not provided by the state government
Lack of monitoring by the PPCB