Gurugram records 585% increase in Covid-related waste between April and June
The quantity of biomedical waste related to coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the district has increased by 585% over the past three months, showed data compiled by Biotic — the concessionaire for biomedical waste management for Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG).
In April, Gurugram amassed an average of 500 kgs of Covid-related biomedical per day. In June, this number exceeded more than 3,000 kgs per day, coinciding with a surge in the number of cases and deaths. On Monday, the total tally of Covid-19 cases in the district reached 5,260.
Close to half of the city’s total medical waste now comes from the diagnosis and treatment of Covid-19 patients. In April, Covid-related waste accounted for just 14% of Gurugram’s total biomedical refuse collected. In June, this waste made up 48.5% of the total biomedical waste.
In April, the district produced 15,076 kgs of Covid-related biomedical waste. In May, the quantity of biomedical waste ballooned to 33,502 kgs, more than twice what was produced the previous month. In June, the district generated 1,03,409 kgs of Covid-related biomedical waste or six times the amount produced in April.
Meanwhile, the growth of routine medical waste collection remained stable at 94,369 kgs in April, 1,12,454 kgs in May, and 1,09,372 kgs in June.
Experts said that Gurugram would soon start to produce Covid-related biomedical waste in excess of the routine waste produced from non-Covid procedures. “In cities like Delhi, biomedical and common waste management systems are already under strain. Gurugram and neighbouring districts with an increasing number of cases are also on their way there. My worry is that hazardous materials from Covid wards in Indian cities will get mixed up with regular waste as our own capacities run out,” said Sourabh Manuja, an environment and waste management fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi.
Manuja also cited examples from other badly hits regions from across the world. “In Wuhan, China, for example, the total amount of biomedical waste had shot up by six times soon after the outbreak. We have also been seeing reports from the US and Italy, which are struggling to deal with mountains of Covid-related waste. And these countries have a significantly higher capacity to tackle their garbage issues than us,” he added.
Gurugram, for its part, is nearing its fully carrying capacity of Covid-19 related waste. From operating at 25% carrying capacity in April, Gurugram’s dedicated biomedical waste management facility in Sector 36 has now scaled up operations to absorb the growing demand. “We are now operating at a 60% capacity,” said Vikas Gahlot, spokesperson, Biotic. “We are managing everything according to the protocol for now. We can process 20 tonnes of waste per day, but are currently processing about 12 tonnes per day. As such, we have some spare capacity left,” he said.
Presently, Covid-19 related bio-medical waste from homes is collected ward-wise. Biotic’s waste workers make two pickups from each ward every week, equipped with a list of addresses where people are under home isolation. “The caretaker of the patient is responsible for bringing segregated waste to the truck, after taking necessary precautions, such as wearing gloves and masks and putting the waste in a yellow bag,” said a zonal sanitation inspector. A separate vehicle makes daily pickups from about 36 other hospitals and Covid care facilities in Gurugram.
Kuldeep Singh, the HSPCB’s regional officer in Gurugram, said, “We have notified state guidelines for Covid-19 biomedical waste which are being followed. If we see a scenario in which the capacity is not enough, we shall work with the corporation to find a solution and engage additional resources if needed.”
Despite repeated attempts, commissioner of MCG did not respond to calls and messages for comment.