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Housing societies devise Covid waste rules for Calcutta

State pollution control board has to ensure biomedical refuse is collected and disposed separately from the household garbage of families of virus patients
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has outsourced the collection of medical waste to a waste management company named GreenTech Environ.

Monalisa Chaudhuri, Subhajoy Roy And Snehal Sengupta   |   Calcutta   |   Published 04.08.20, 01:10 AM

The number of Covid patients in home isolation has been on the rise and so has the amount of Covid waste. Housing societies across the city are fumbling when it comes to disposing the waste because they are not fully aware of the protocol.

State pollution control board guidelines speak about segregated collection of biohazardous waste and solid waste from Covid-hit families, but most housing societies have devised their own methods to collect and dispose of such waste.

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The government protocol

There should be a separate mechanism to collect biomedical waste (used masks, gloves, tissues, toiletries or swabs contaminated with blood or body fluid of a Covid-19 patient) and general solid (household) waste, the state pollution control board has said.

The civic body has to provide families of Covid patients with yellow bags for biomedical waste. The civic body has to ensure biomedical waste is collected and disposed separately from the household waste of families of Covid patients.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has outsourced the collection of medical waste to a waste management company named GreenTech Environ.

Whenever someone tests positive for Covid-19, the corporation ensures the yellow bags for biomedical waste reaches the person’s home, an official of the company said. “Either we get in touch with the family or someone from the family gets in touch with us.”

GreenTech usually collects biomedical waste once a week. They charge Rs 500 for every collection, the official said.

The Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation has been handing out a bin and plastic bags for biomedical waste to Covid-hit families, a corporation official said.

The plastic bags are collected separately and dumped at the Salt Lake Sub-divisional hospital near City Centre, Devashish Jana, the mayoral council member in charge of solid waste management, said.

The waste is then collected by the agency entrusted with collecting the hospital’s waste items, Jana said.

The New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) has engaged an agency to collect biomedical waste from homes of Covid-19 patients, an official said.

The agency provides “large double sealed polythene packets” to houses where patients are in home isolation, the official said. Once the packets are filled, residents call up the number printed on the packet and the agency then sends people to collect it, the official said.

The ground reality

An upscale housing complex in south Calcutta has prepared its own waste management protocol, which includes daily collection of waste from Covid-hit family by members of their staff in PPEs and dumping it in the common vat where garbage from others flats is dumped.

Another housing complex along the Bypass follows a similar procedure. “Our people collect the garbage from the house of a Covid patient every three days. The garbage is emptied in a common vat, which is cleared by the CMC,” a resident of the housing complex said.

In another housing complex along the Bypass, the residents’ welfare association has arranged for daily disposal of such waste. “The waste is collected from a Covid patient’s house only after garbage collection is over from rest of the flats. The waste is shifted into two thick polythene bags that are dumped into the common vat,” a member of the association said.

Metro contacted representatives of these housing complexes. They said they had not received any “yellow bag” from civic bodies and that they had their own mechanism to manage such waste.

Why this mismatch

The reason behind this possible lapse could be lack of enough people to handle the increasing number of patients. “After the distribution of the yellow bags, borough officials are supposed to record the address of a patient with a photograph of the person receiving the bag. I am not sure how this (lapse) can happen. It can be because of staff shortage, if at all this has happened.



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