The disposal of a mix of routine solid waste from quarantine centres in the city and the Covid-19 waste, such as personal protection equipment (PPE), gloves and masks, have put a massive strain on the incinerator at Kailash crematorium to an extent that, on some days, routine biomedical waste generated in hospitals is sent to other incineration facilities in Baramati and Satara.
On a daily basis, the incineration facility at Kailash crematorium deals with minimum 2,200 kg of Covid-19 waste, which mainly consists of PPE. In addition to the solid waste generated at quarantine centres, its capacity has gone down by 40 per cent.
At present, there are 956 nursing homes, 19 blood banks, 461 pathology laboratories, 4,260 dispensaries, 62 Covid care centres and 32 other healthcare establishments in Pune, which are utilising the services to dispose of biomedical waste. In Pimpri-Chinchwad, such waste is collected from six blood banks, 235 labs, 473 nursing homes, 1,756 dispensaries and 14 Covid care centres.
Sunil Dandawate, Director of PASSCO Environmental Solutions, authorised by the PMC and the PCMC to run the common biomedical waste treatment facility, said the facility at Moshi in Pimpri-Chinchwad was adequate, but in Pune, it was overloaded and excess biomedical waste was being sent to Baramati for proper disposal. According to Dandawate, the incinerator’s daily capacity of treatment and disposal is 4,000 kg of biomedical waste. Another 1,200 kg of the waste could be autoclaved.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, 5,000 to 6,000 kg of biomedical waste was treated at the plant. However, the regular biomedical waste has reduced by half as elective surgeries and other major medical procedures were on hold. The incinerator is designed to treat biomedical waste and, hence, its efficiency reduced when the load increased due to Covid-19 waste.
With hostels, marriage halls and lodges being used as quarantine centres, there was an additional generation of contaminated solid waste leading to an overload at the common incineration facility at Kailash crematorium, said Nitin Shinde, Sub-Regional Officer at Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (Pune),.
Shinde added that there were 30 such facilities in the state and Pune operators had been directed to send a proposal on their requirements to upgrade the incineration facility.
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