VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh generated total 1,098 tonnes of biomedical waste during the last four months at government and private hospitals designated as Coronavirus treatment centres in the state.
According to Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB), 9.22 tonnes of average waste had been collected per day from Coronavirus treatment centres between March 1 and June 27. After that, it shot up to 20 tonnes per day when the Covid-19 pandemic peaked. Board authorities attributed high quantum of bio-medical waste (BMW) to bed sheets used by virus-infected patients, their leftover food, used syringes, needles, cotton, injection vials and PPE kits.
Hundreds of hospitals in both government and private sectors had been roped in for treatment when Coronavirus peaked. Treatment, discharges and deaths of patients had phenomenally increased during the time. BMW is, however, coming down now, as a number of private hospitals have stopped treating Covid patients with their numbers drastically coming down.
At present, AP has 12 biomedical waste treatment plants, with each district, except Srikakulam and Kadapa, having one centre. Vizianagaram facility caters to needs of Srikakulam district too. However, Visakhapatnam district has two centres. Srikakulam and Kadapa have no bio-medical waste treatment units because a minimum 5,000 beds in a district are essential for a waste treatment unit to be financially viable.
Currently, all 12 facilities are being run by private agencies under supervision of APPCB. In Vijayawada, biomedical treatment facility Safeviron is located in the suburbs.
Safeviron managing director V. Venkateswara Rao said, We engaged six vehicles for transporting Covid waste unlike the regular two, given the huge load of waste being generated during peak days of Coronavirus. Now, as the caseload has dipped, we are getting relatively less quantities of Covid waste since last few days. This has given us quite some relief, Venkateswara Rao remarked.
Biomedical waste treatment plants charge hospitals Rs. 60 per kg of waste collected. They incinerate all biomedical refuse while disinfecting plastic waste like syringes, before shredding them.
APPCB authorities monitor collection, transport and disposal of Covid waste on a daily basis through an app called CPCB Covid-19. All vehicles carrying such waste are equipped with GPS.
Pollution board environmental engineer M. Nagarjun said, We keep a close tab on biomedical waste being transported from hospitals throughout the state using the online app. The huge generation of waste during peak days of pandemic has now come down to 810 tonnes per day, he stated.