The government of Tamil Nadu, in southern India, is to set up its own bio medical waste treatment plants.
At the moment the public hospitals are using the services of 11 private common treatment plants throughout the State, paying for every kilogram of waste processed.
Four to five common treatment facilities will be set up in the major cities in the State — Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchi, under the guidance of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and in accordance with the Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998.
They will have all the facilities currently being offered in the private treatment plants, including deep-burial pits, autoclaves, and microwaves.
While funds have not yet been earmarked for the construction of the CTPs, state Health Secretary V.K.Subburaj told The Hindu that money would not be an issue. Funds were available under the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Development Project (TNHSP). A plant was estimated to cost Rs. 2 crore to set up, he added.
Currently, the government has to call for tenders every year to choose the facilities for waste disposal. There are inherent difficulties with this — the entire process of sifting through a number of applicants and resolving the payment issues.
"All those hassles can be overcome if we have our own plants. It will be a natural process — moving the waste from our hospitals to our treatment plants, without any payment. The plants will be for the exclusive use of the government hospitals and other health units," Subburaj noted.
However, he added that private health care facilities that wished to use the government-run CTPs, would be allowed to do so for a fee.
Responding to the health department's decision to set up its own treatment facilities, Rajesh Rangajan of the Consumer and Civic Action Group, said there was a need to take stock of the current situation. "We need to see if we need more treatment plants in the first place. Also, the World Bank-aided TNHSP has a policy against encouraging the setting up of more incinerators," he added.
Meanwhile, the TNPCB has asked the Consumer and Civic Action Group to submit a proposal to assess the current status of bio-medical waste management in the State.
A little over 41,000 health workers are expected to get basic training in medical waste management from 800 master trainers, the Project Director of TNHSP and Special Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, P.W.C. Davidar has said.
Speaking to the reporters on the sidelines of the 'Sensitization workshop on bio-medical waste management' on Wednesday, Davidar said that the pilot project of hospital waste management would streamline the anomalies in disposing of the medical waste.
He was confident that statewide training of health staff on hospital waste management would put pressure on private players to stick to the norms of the TNPCB in disposing of medical waste.