Biomedical waste generation at maximum as Covid-19 cases surge in Delhi
- According to Biotic Waste Management, one of the largest common biomedical waste treatment facilities in Delhi, Covid-19 waste generated last July was around 7.2 tonnes per day, which increased to 12.5-13 tonnes per day by the end of April 2021.
With the number of Covid-19 infections rising over the past several weeks, the city is facing a massive surge in biomedical waste.
According to Biotic Waste Management, one of the largest common biomedical waste treatment facilities in Delhi, Covid-19 waste generated last July was around 7.2 tonnes per day, which increased to 12.5-13 tonnes per day by the end of April 2021.
“We have a total capacity of 34 tons per day so while we have a margin, if cases keep increasing, then we will reach capacity,” said Vikas Gehlot, spokesperson for Biotic Waste Management, the common biomedical waste treatment (CBWT) facility which caters to north, north-east, south, southeast and New Delhi.
“For the first time, there is a slight worry that we may reach capacity, but overall waste management is better than last year, mainly because of guidelines that have categorised biomedical waste and ensured that food and general waste is not coming to us,” said an office bearer of SMS Water Grace Pvt Limited, another CBWT.
Data shared by the three municipal corporations shows that general biomedical waste collected spiked to around 3 tonnes in April, compared to only around 700kg collected in March.
East Delhi Municipal Corporation collected 748.28kg of hazardous waste in April, compared to 170.8kg in March. The north civic body collected 2,776 kg of biomedical waste in April, out of which 959.1kg was collected between April 23 and April 30, when the cases began rising at a rapid and unprecedented rate.
In south Delhi, too, between April 23 and April 30, biomedical waste collected was 291.7kg.
Experts pointed out that the actual production of biomedical waste in the national capital is much higher than what is being collected by the civic agencies.
Delhi has reported an average of 23,890 new Covid-19 cases everyday in the past week. On Monday, 18,043 new cases were recorded in the city, with a positivity rate dropping to 29.56%.
“Unlike last year, the biomedical waste generation is not limited to hospitals and quarantine centres now. The cases are rising at such a fast pace that every household is now producing such waste, and much of it is not being disposed off in a safe manner. Trash from thousands of patients in home isolation is not even being collected separately as biomedical waste,” said Sunil Chhabra, solid waste management expert and volunteer with Save Our Planet, a citizens’ group working with waste collectors in Delhi-NCR.
Sanjay Gahlot, president of Delhi Safai Karamchari Union, said that masks, gloves and other hazardous biomedical waste is carelessly strewn all around the city. “With the rising number of cases these days, these could become the reason for infections,” said Gahlot.
East Delhi mayor Nirmal Jain, said waste is segregated at households. “The quantum of biomedical waste has increased but we are managing it safely,” he said.