Self-testing Covid kits to strain BBMP waste collection

Self-testing Covid-19 kits to strain BBMP waste collection

For one, sources on the ground say there is virtually no collection of biomedical waste from homes

All Covid waste should be disposed of carefully. Credit: iStock Photo

The arrival of over-the-counter Covid-19 testing kits in the market intended to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus is likely to strain the biomedical waste-collection abilities of municipal bodies. 

For one, sources on the ground say there is virtually no collection of biomedical waste from homes, which is leading to household waste being mixed with medical/Covid-19 waste being dumped on landfill sites. The testing kits, which entered the market on June 3, are meant to be used at homes. They come with a biomedical disposal bag. 

As per the rules set out in March 2020 by the Central Pollution Control Board, all Covid-19 medical waste is to be specially identified, stored in a special marked bin and removed using a special CBTWF collection van. The biomedical waste is then incinerated at one of the 26 biomedical incinerators in the state, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) said. 

Read more: Son of Delta Plus case in Bengaluru had contracted disease: BBMP

According to Dr Harish Kumar, Special Commissioner (Solid Waste) in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), a three-month tender had been called and a work order issued to collect biomedical waste from Covid Care Centres, crematoriums and home isolation sites. "They are now collecting," he said. 

But others say this is not happening. In many cases, pourakarmikas are collecting the trash in a mixed fashion from homes even though that is not a part of their job, said Lekha Adavi of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions. 

Advocate Maitreyi Krishnan who is associated with the BBMP Pourakarmika Sangha added: "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." 

This was an issue acknowledged by another BBMP officer who said there had been problems in certain zones of the city. "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," the official said. 

Another problem is the finalisation of a tender to certify the collected material and dispose of it. "The company has quoted a high, unjustifiable amount," Dr Kumar said. 

The number of home isolation cases has fallen in tune with overall numbers. "Previously, there were 15 to 20 per ward per day. Now there are between four and five," said D Randeep, Special Commissioner (Health), BBMP. 

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