New Delhi, August 4: Municipal corporations and state pollution boards have been mandated to upload data pertaining to collection and disposal of Covid-19 biomedical from residences and quarantine centres on an app created by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The move comes after a direction by the Supreme Court last week, based on a slew of recommendations by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) that flagged the need for tracking and monitoring the biomedical waste as most of it went untreated after getting mixed with general waste, Hindustan Times reported.

The EPCA, which assists Supreme Court on air pollution and environment issues, pointed out in its July 27 report that the CPCB has developed an App called ‘COVID19BWM’ on which tracking of such waste from the point of collection to its treatment is possible, provided all state municipalities and state pollution boards feed the required information.

Incorporating the EPCA recommendations in its order, a bench of justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said, “All municipal corporations and state pollution control boards are directed to use the COVID19BWM App. This is made mandatory and CPCB to track all the biomedical waste and ensure that it is being sent for treatment.”

In addition, the court also directed the Centre and CPCB to work out a national barcode system or portal to track biomedical waste. The court has sought a compliance report on its directions by August 7, following which the matter will be heard on August 10.

EPCA senior advocate Aparajita Singh said, “The volume of biomedical waste generated due to Covid-19 has shown an increase over the last three months. Much of this waste is not segregated at the homes and quarantine centres, from where it is generated. This requires public sensitisation by municipal bodies, as only then can biomedical waste be incinerated at the Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment Facilities (CBWTF).”

EPCA, studying the pattern of waste generation in Delhi-NCR, noted that biomedical waste generation increased from 94 tonnes in May 2020 to 761 tonnes till July 24. There was no segregation between biomedical waste and other waste. It was noted by the EPCA that two municipal bodies in Delhi — South and North Municipal Corporations — were sending the biomedical waste to waste-to-energy plants instead of CBWTF.

When Singh highlighted this problem to the Court, the bench directed all municipal corporations to educate households about segregation of biomedical waste into a yellow bag and send it for treatment only to CBWTF. “The waste energy plants are not designed to incinerate biomedical waste, which needs a double-incineration chamber and protocols for storage and emission control,” the court recorded in its order.

The growing volume of biomedical waste is posing a worry to EPCA. Delhi has a capacity to treat 2,220 tonnes of biomedical waste in a month, followed by UP (1,656 tonnes/month), Haryana (288 tonnes/month) and Rajasthan (72 tonnes/month), EPCA stated in its report. “This will need to be carefully monitored and tracked as, in case the generation load increases, then other facilities like hazardous waste incinerators will have to be used for biomedical waste,” the report added.

Besides, the court further directed all state pollution boards to ensure that the common facilities treating biomedical waste have an online emission monitoring system that can be monitored daily. In this regard, the contractors running these common facilities were directed to file compliance reports by the next date of hearing.

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