With the launch of the over-the-counter (OTC) self-testing kits for Covid-19 in the market for keeping a check on the spread of Covid-19, there will be an increase in the burden on the bio-medical waste collection utilities of the municipal bodies.
On one side, the sources reveal that there is virtually no collection of the biowaste from homes, which will induce the mixing of the household waste with the medical or Covid-19 waste dumped on the landfills. The self-testing kits, launched on June 3, are supposed to be used at homes, and also have a biomedical disposable bag.
According to the rules released in March 2020 by the Central Pollution Control Board, all the Covid-19 medical waste has to be particularly identified, isolated in a labeled bin, and eliminated using a unique CBTWF collection van. The waste is then subjected to incineration at one of 26 biomedical incinerators in the state, as per the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.
As per Dr. Harish Kumar, Special Commissioner (Solid Waste) in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), a three-month tender had been prepared and a work order has been directed to get the biomedical waste from crematoriums, Covid-19 care centers, and home isolation regions. He said, “They are now collecting.”
However, several others were saying that the pourakarmikas are collecting the waste from the homes in a mixed fashion for something which is not even their duty, said Lekha Adavi of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions.
Advocate Maitreyi Krishnan, representing the BBMP Pourakarmika Sangh said, “Most of the mixed waste is being collected by auto drivers and loaders contracted by the BBMP and ends up in landfills. This has direct implications for everybody’s health.”
The problem was identified by another BBMP official who iterated there had been issues in specific zones of the city. The official revealed, “The waste incineration and collection have been outsourced to private companies, but problems have developed in inner zones of the city, in terms of collection and disposal. Some collections are not happening.”
Another issue is finalizing a tender for certifying the collected material and then its disposal. Dr. Kumar said, “The company has quoted a high, unjustifiable amount.”
The count of home isolation cases has declined in tune with the overall cases. D Randeep, Special Commissioner (Health), BBMP said, “Previously, there were 15 to 20 per ward per day. Now there are between four and five.”
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