The two incinerators at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), on which the hospital and several other public and private health centres depend on for biomedical waste disposal, are past their shelf life and need to be replaced urgently, officials said.
There are three other incinerators in the city. The one in GMCH-32 and the other at Civil Hospital, Manimjra, are non-functional. The one in GMSH-16 was functioning but was also old and needs to be replaced, said a hospital official.
Each of PGI’s two incinerators has the capacity to burn 170 kg of biomedical waste an hour. Every day more than 1,000 kg of incinerable waste is burnt at PGI. For this, PGI uses one incinerator for nearly six hours daily, while the other remains on standby.
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PGI generates around 1,400 kg of biomedical waste daily. More than 850 kg of this is incinerable waste. In addition, PGI’s incinerator plant caters to all private health care centres, Government Medical College and Hospital-Sector 32, Panjab University, and at times to GMSH-16 and Civil Hospital, Manimajra, also. PGI charges other hospitals Rs 58.56 per kg for use of the incinerator.
Every day, it receives around 250 kg of incinerable waste from GMCH-32, more than 150 kg from Alliance Envirocare, four-five kg from Panjab University and others.
“The machinery is time-worn and can explode any time. The outer metallic body part of the incinerator is worn out. We have maintained it by placing metal patches on it, but it is risky. Then, every other day, there is some problem in the Air Pollution Control Device, which results in leakage of harmful chemicals in the air,” said a PGI official.
Till date, PGI has spent lakhs of rupees on the maintenance of the incinerators. In the previous fiscal, it spent Rs 1,07,585 for the maintenance of incinerators. It has spent much more on previous occasions.
“Around three-four years ago, we had spent more than Rs 25 lakh on the repair of the toxic water storage tanks. However, even after repair, they are still in poor condition and needs to be replaced,” said an official.
“Once damaged, the incinerators must be replaced and not repaired. Can one imagine the amount of damage these incinerators can do if not replaced immediately? A blast can occur any time,” added the official.
The PGI administration admitted that the incinerators need immediate replacement.
“There is a proposal to install new incinerators. Application for obtaining ‘Consent to establish’ has been submitted with Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee. The work for replacement of the incinerators of the Institute by Engineering Department is under process,” said Manju Wadwalkar, PGI’s spokeswoman.
In 1996, CPCC gave its consent to PGI to run the two incinerators, which have a shelf life of around 10-12 years, for 15 years.
“The consent period got over in 2011-12. In the past three years, PGI has been getting annual approval from CPCC to run the incinerators. Ideally, after 15 years, the machinery should have been replaced but it has been 18 years now and the same old incinerators are working,” said an official.