NEW DELHI: The novel coronavirus has put immense pressure and attention on the state of healthcare facilities (HCF) around the world. In lieu of this, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that of the total 2,70,416 heathcare facilities in the country, only 1,10,356 facilities have obtained authorisation from CPCB under the Bio-medical Waste Management (BMWM) Rules, 2016. The remaining over 1.60 lakh facilities are running without any authorisation. CPCB told the Tribunal that as per the annual report submitted by State Pollution Control Boards, only 1,11,122 units had applied for authorisation out of which, just over 1.10 lakh units have obtained authorisation.
“Apart from those who have applied and those who have obtained authorisation, there are about 50,000 health-care facilities that have neither applied nor taken the authorisation,” CPCB said in its report. A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the States to expedite the process and complete it by December 31 and file a compliance report with the CPCB.
According to the report, 25 State and Union Territories (UTs) have completed their inventories of all health-care facilities and 10 namely; Assam, Kerala, Mizoram, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand, are yet to do it. The Tribunal asked these 10 states to expedite the process and ensure the submission of the relevant reports to the CPCB by December 31, 2020.
The report further stated that seven states and UTs do not have a Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF) to cater service of treatment and disposal of bio-medical waste. It said that these States are managing disposal of bio-medical waste with existing captive treatment facilities installed by health-care facilities or by deep burial of waste. These States have reported that they are under the process of setting up of new CBWTFs, the report said.
A total of 11 states and UTs have not provided any information to the CPCB in terms of monitoring healthcare facilities such as veterinary hospitals, animal houses, AYUSH hospitals and so on. The CPCB conducted random checks of veterinary hospitals and animal houses and found that most of them have not acquired necessary authorisation from concerned authorities. Moreover, these hospitals have also not registered themselves with the available CBWTFs for treatment and disposal of bio-medical waste generated in their facilities and also lack means of waste segregation using colour-coded collection bins. These facilities do not maintain any records of the waste they produce or of how they dispose of it either, the report said.
The Tribunal noted that of the 200 CBWTF facilities across the country, only 150 had connected with the Central server of CPCB for transmission of online continous Emission Monitoring Systems. CBWTFs in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, MP and West Bengal have installed CBWTFs in all facilities, however some of the CBWTFs are yet to connect with CPCB server, the tribunal noted and said that gaps need to be bridged.
The Tribunal also reiterated its earlier direction for the constitution of District Planning Committees to monitor District Environment Plans covering important environmental issues. Explaining further, the Tribunal also said that it is compulsory for all State Pollution Control Boards to assess the status of compliance of norms by CBWTFs. If any CBWTF is found disposing of waste in an unhealthy way or dumping untreated waste illegally, the same must be reported to the CPCB and appropriate action must be taken against them.
The green panel directed all the States and Union Territories which are lacking in compliance to take further steps and give their reports to the CPCB online. A further consolidated report must be compiled by the CPCB based on information collected from all the Pollution Control Boards as on November 30, 2020, the NGT said.
The direction came on a plea filed by a U.P.-based journalist Shailesh Singh seeking directions for closure of all hospitals, medical facilities and waste disposal plants which were not complying with the waste management rules. It had alleged that rag-pickers were allowed unauthorised transportation of waste and they disposed it in an unscientific manner.