The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed to the Centre to constitute a high-level task team, comprising members from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Defence and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), to supervise handling and scientific disposal of COVID-19 waste in accordance with the guidelines.
The Court has also directed the state departments of environment and pollution control boards to ensure compliance with Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016 and furnish action taken report to CPCB and CPCB take further steps and furnish a consolidated report to tribunal of the steps taken and the ground status as on May 31.
In a suo motu case, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed the chief secretaries of states and Union Territories to closely monitor the scientific storage, transport, handling, management and disposal of COVID-19 waste by coordinating the same with the concerned departments of the stateas its improper handling without safeguards poses a grave threat environment and health of the people.“At the national level, let a high level task team of Ministry of Environment, Health, Urban Development, Jal Shakti, Defence and CPCB supervise the handling and scientific disposal of COVID-19 waste in accordance with the guidelines,” the bench has said.The court has also stated that there is also a need for training persons responsible for compliance in local bodies and health department by an online mechanism instead of only providing them with adequate protective gears.
The bench has also mentioned that the Chief Secretary of states/UTs will closely monitor the scientific storage, transport, handling, management and disposal of COVID-19 waste as its unscientific handling poses a grave threat to environment and health of people, by coordinating the same with the concerned departments of the state.The tribunal has said that while the Bio Medical Waste Rules deal with waste generated in dealing with infectious diseases, the coronavirus pandemic has presented further challenge, in terms of capacity, to scientific disposal of generated waste and non-compliance of procedural and monitoring aspects.
The court also took note of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revised guidelines issued on April 19 for management of waste generated during the diagnostics and treatment of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.These guidelines are to be followed by all, including isolation wards, quarantine centres, sample collection centres, laboratories, ULBs and common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities, in addition to existing practices under BMW Management Rules, 2016.However, after going through the guidelines the bench noted that there is a need for further revision of the guidelines to cover all aspects, covering not only institutions but also individual households and dealing with situations where scientific disposal facilities like incinerators are not available and any unmindful deep burial without adequate safeguards can adversely affect the groundwater and pose danger to health and safety of the people.
The bench has observed that there is a need for creating awareness about the precautions and steps to be taken by all handlers and workers as well as citizens, making a model plan, to be adopted locally by the panchayat, subdivision, district and state authorities with such further changes as may be necessary in local conditions.
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Source:: The Navhind Times