Mumbai HC seeks government's clarification on disposal of COVID-19 biomedical waste

A PIL was filed claiming untreated biomedical waste generated by hospitals, pathology labs was being dumped at Aadharwadi dumping ground

Mumbai: The Bombay high court has directed the Maharashtra government to clarify whether it was ensuring that all coronavirus-related biomedical waste generated in the state was being disposed of in a safe manner.

The HC issued notices to the Maharashtra government, the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) in Thane district, and the state pollution control board.

A bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta said it was an important issue, and asked the authorities to respond to a Public Interest Litigation which claimed that untreated COVID-19 biomedical waste generated by hospitals, pathology labs was being dumped at the Aadharwadi dumping ground in Kalyan, in violation of all the central waste disposal guidelines.

As per the plea, filed by Dombivali resident Kishor Sohoni through his advocate Sadhna Kumar, the Biomedical Waste Management Rules make it mandatory to treat such waste generated by a hospital before dumping it.

Besides, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has released guidelines for handling, treatment and safe disposal of biomedical waste generated during treatment diagnosis, and quarantine of patients confirmed or suspected to have the coronavirus disease, the plea said.

The CPCB rules mandate that besides hospitals following its guidelines on Covid-19 waste disposal, pathology labs, quarantine centres, and citizens following home isolation must follow its rules for such waste disposal, the petition further said.

The CPCB mandates all COVID-related biomedical waste be stored separately and it is labelled and kept in a temporary storage room before being handed over to the authorised staff of the state's common biomedical waste treatment facility, it said.

“We also told the court that while KDMC needed to check the disposal of biomedical waste at the Aadharwadi ground, we do not know whether the CPCB guidelines were being followed in the rest of the state,” advocate Kumar said.

The plea urged the court to direct the KDMC to ensure that dumping of untreated Covid-19 biomedical waste at the Aadharwadi dumping ground was stopped immediately. It also urged the court to direct the state to make a statement regarding the disposal of Covid-19 biomedical waste within Maharashtra and clarify whether the guidelines were being followed.

The court has directed the authorities to file their response before July 14, the next date of hearing in the matter.

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