The Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) has ordered the closure of 318 health facilities in the state over improper biomedical waste disposal, highlighting a national pollution and sanitation issue.
“These healthcare units earlier disposed their biomedical wastes through the CBWTF [common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility], but later got dissociated from this system, indicating that they were not disposing their biomedical wastes properly,” commented BSPCB public relations officer Birendra Kumar.
Medical waste, as previously noted by Health Issues India, has emerged as a serious public health and environmental threat in India. As noted by Kumar, “biomedical wastes coming out of hospitals, nursing homes and diagnosis centres have emerged as a big threat to [the] environment as these include toxic chemicals, microorganisms and other harmful agents.”
Of the 318 facilities in the state whose closure has been ordered by the BSPCB, 201 belong to the Bhojpur district, concentrated in the Arra municipal corporation. Eighty were situated in the Rohtas district and 37 were located in the Buxar district. “The BSPCB has been monitoring the issue of scientific disposal of biomedical wastes generated by healthcare facilities in both urban and rural areas of the state,” added Kumar.
The practice of improper medical waste disposal has been flagged in numerous parts of India. The Nagpur Municipal Corporation issued Rs 2.19 lakh in fines to 23 hospitals and clinics for improper biomedical waste disposal earlier this year. In Goa, 350 hospitals and clinics were issued show cause notices for the practice in May.
And in Delhi, the closure of 32 facilities was ordered by the Delhi Pollution Control Board because of improper medical waste disposal in July, against the backdrop of reports that facilities in Delhi were behind schedule in implementing Union Environment Ministry guidelines on biomedical waste disposal. At the time, it was reported that just ten hospitals were in the process of registration under the Biomedical Waste Management Rules and as many as 56 facilities were in violation of the regulations, with twelve being ordered to close ahead of the order to shutter the 32 facilities subsequently.
India is generating an increasing volume of biomedical waste. In March last year, it was reported that 550.9 tonnes of biomedical waste is generated each day. By next year, this figure is expected to jump to 775.5 tonnes a day and an annual increase of seven percent is projected. As such, proper management is a necessity and vigilance by authorities is vital for this to occur. The reports from Bihar reinforce the importance of this. Action against negligent and erring facilities is required from all parts of India to avert an environmental and sanitation crisis owing to improper biomedical waste disposal.