The state government of Telangana has directed all healthcare institutions and municipal administration authorities of Hyderabad to strictly abide by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines while disposing off COVID-19 related waste generated by hospitals and by people living in home quarantine.
A joint study conducted by the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) on the sewerage samples collected from various points in Hyderabad had revealed that there is a heavy release of untreated COVID-19 related waste into the drains and nallas. The state government had taken cognizance of this and directed the municipal administration and the medical and health institutions, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes to strictly abide by the CPCB norms.
With more than 25,000 corona infected patients undergoing treatment in hospitals and a few of them being given care by putting in home quarantine, the COVID-19 waste being generated by the hospitals particularly in the districts and by the people living in home quarantine is not being segregated properly and is being disposed off along with the regular garbage. In view of this, the municipal administration and urban development minister K Taraka Rama Rao has directed the municipal commissioners and hospital authorities to strictly follow the rules and regulations laid down by CPCB in disposing off the COVID-19 waste generated in the state.
As per the pollution control board authorities, as many as 1,800 million liters of sewerage waste is generated every day, of this only 40 per cent is being processed at different sewage treatment plants (STPs). As per the CCMB-IICT study, sewerage samples from major STPs which were processed for SARS-Cov-2 viral RNA has detected viral RNA in the inlet samples, while the same is not traced out at the outlets of STPs which is released out after treatment.
In view of this, the state government has directed the hospitals and municipal administration authorities to follow the revised guidelines of CPCB. As per these guidelines, the municipal authorities must ensure special arrangements in place for disposal of waste from hospitals, quarantine centers and COVID sample collection centers. The officials were asked to maintain different bins and trolleys for segregating the COVID-19 waste from the regular waste. The hospitals should clearly mention and label on the bins as ‘COVID waste’ and make sure that these do not get mixed with other waste. The so collected waste must be kept separately for at least 72 hours before disposed off. The authorities are also directed to upload the details of the disposable material into mobile application of CPCB from time to time. The used PPE Kits, gloves, masks and other materials should be kept in a paper bag for 72 hours and later be cut into pieces so that they are not reused. As per the CPCB guidelines only dedicated staff must collect the waste from the houses and not mix the garbage with the COVID waste.
According to the PCB authorities, the COVID-19 waste which was recorded in just 50-60 kilograms in the month of March to May 2020, has now increased to 3 tonnes in July.