The state environment department has decided not to allow nursing homes or private healthcare facilities to come up in the Greater Calcutta area without clearance on bio-medical waste management from the state pollution control board (PCB).
Environment minister Manab Mukherjee announced this major policy decision in the Assembly on Thursday. Trinamul Congress MLA Saugata Ray had asked Mukherjee whether prior clearance from the environment department was essential for setting up a nursing home in the city and its suburbs.
Mukherjee said the department had started sending the necessary instructions to the civic bodies in this matter. The civic bodies have been advised to seek from the applicants clearance certificates from the environment department before issuing licences.
According to PCB rules, healthcare establishments fall under the ‘ordinary red category’ of its industrial siting policy. A set of 32 categories of establishments fall under the ordinary red category and cannot be allowed within the municipal limits of the Calcutta metropolitan area. But special allowances have been made for healthcare establishments in the Calcutta metropolitan area, subject to consideration by the PCB.
Minister Mukherjee said that before permitting a nursing home, private hospital or health clinic to come up, the PCB would check whether the unit had the facility to treat bio-medical wastes before disposal. “Healthcare units must have access to autoclave facilities to treat bio-medical waste. It does not mean that every unit should have its own autoclave. Several nursing homes, clinics and hospitals can set up a common facility for themselves,” he pointed out.
“It is necessary to make the handling of solid wastes by conservancy workers safer. Besides, it will act as deterrent to recycling used syringes, needles, gloves, tubes and saline bottles,” Mukherjee added.
Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and several municipalities have already started collecting bio-medical wastes in a segregated manner and dumping them with special care.
Bio-medical wastes include used cottonwool, bandages, needles, syringes and amputed parts of limbs. Separate colour schemes for the polybags differentiate the wastes.
According to the CMC, each bed in a hospital or nursing home generates 300g of medical waste daily.