Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Biomedical Waste Management in India: Still a looming concern


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Biomedical waste management in India: prospects and challenges

  • The seemingly endless issue of biomedical waste management (BMWM) in India has necessitated the MoEFCC to amend and enforce the “parent rules” of 2016, yet again.
  • Combating the issues has multifaceted humanitarian and environmental challenges for various communities of the country, and therefore, needs immediate responsiveness for our common world.

BMWM (Amendment) Rules, 2018

  • All bedded healthcare facilities (HCFs) irrespective of their number of beds have to regularly update the BMWM register
  • HCFs which have beds less than 10 shall have to comply with the output discharge standard for liquid waste generated, latest by December 31, 2019
  • Corresponding duties of Ministry of Defence officials as per Schedule III: A report needs to be submitted to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) after the inspection and monitoring of HCFs, Medical Inspection (MI) rooms and AFMS.
  • In March 2018, the BMW amendments delve into extension of dates to phase out — chlorinated plastic bags (excluding blood bags) and gloves etc.

Scenario of bio-medical waste management in India

  • According to the CPCB annual report of 2016, total quantity of BMW generation in the country is approximately 517 tonnes per day (TPD).
  • To grapple with these manifold increase in generation of BMW, 199 common bio-medical waste treatment facilities (CBWTFs) are in operation and 23 are under construction (CPCB, 2017).
  • Safe and effective management of waste is not only a legal necessity but also a social responsibility.

Ineffective management

  • Nevertheless, these amendments are yet to be monitored and enforced on the ground.
  • Despite of having the BMWM legislation since 1998, followed by the changes in the recent past, many regions of the country still have dearth of systematic efforts to mitigate risks associated with such waste.
  • The compliance of rules is still an ongoing process in the country and law in many states is writ large.
  • The legal obligation has been reduced to paper formality only and there is a lack of concern, motivation, awareness and cost factor in proper biomedical waste management.

Way Forward

  1. Managing healthcare waste requires effective knowledge not only among those who produce the healthcare waste but also among those who handles it.
  2. So, to achieve this, HCFs and regulatory authorities have to take stringent measures in order to ensure safe disposal of BMW in the country.
  3. To state a few:
  • training and awareness programme for healthcare personnel needs to be conducted;
  • legal actions against defaulting HCFs and ill-operated CBWTFs is obligatory;
  • self-regulatory mechanism for monitoring and implementation for waste management should be encouraged and
  • well timed sufficient allocation of funds through central funding from National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) should be ensured.
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