- There is a lot of pressure on medical waste treatment plants: Amit Nilawar
- The bio-medical waste treatment facilities are operating in three shifts
- Delhi has three waste-to-energy treatment plants
New Delhi: The two common bio-medical waste treatment facilities (CBWTF) in the city are grappling with increased load due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with their operators saying the pressure is set to increase with rising cases. The two CBWTFs in Delhi are SMS Water Grace BMW Private Limited in Nilothi in west Delhi and Biotic Waste Solutions Private Limited in Jahangirpuri, with an operational capacity of 12 tonnes and 34 tonnes per day, respectively. Together, these facilities have been disposing of around 19 tonnes of COVID and 16 tonnes on non-COVID bio-medical waste per day, according to their representatives.
SMS Water Grace collects COVID bio-medical waste from government hospitals, including LNJP and Safdarjung Hospital, quarantine centres, isolation facilities, testing centres, dispensaries, private hospitals and laboratories in six districts of Delhi — west, southwest, central, Shahdara, east and northeast.
Biotic waste solutions covers north, northwest, New Delhi, south, and southeast districts. It collects COVID waste from AIIMS, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College etc.
Municipal corporations are responsible for collecting COVID-19 bio-medical waste from houses of patients undergoing home quarantine. This waste goes to the waste-to-energy plants, which have incinerators with large capacities. Delhi has three waste-to-energy treatment plants, at Sukhdev Vihar-Okhla, Narela-Bawana and Ghazipur.
Amit Nilawar from SMS Water Grace said before the coronavirus, his facility had been operating at 50 percent capacity.
Now, it is operating between 90 percent and 110 percent capacity due to the additional COVID-19 waste, which has increased the risk of shutdowns. The incinerator is burning 13 tonnes of bio-medical waste (Covid and non-Covid)per day now against around six tonnes in the pre-coronavirus times. The machinery needs rest, he said.
Mr. Nilawar said the operation cost per day has increased manifold because of the “tremendous pressure” on the facility.
The plant is being operated in three shifts now as compared to two shifts earlier. We had 100 employees earlier. Due to the increased workload, we hired another 50. We have been providing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, gloves, and masks to everyone, he said.
Besides alcohol-based sanitisers for employees, a large quantity of hypochlorite solution is needed to sanitise vehicles. According to the Central Pollution Control Board’s guidelines for collection and disposal of COVID-19 waste, separate vehicles are needed to transport COVID and non-COVID bio-medical waste. He said,
We need help from the Delhi government. It should make it compulsory for waste-to-energy plants in the city to dispose of our surplus waste.
PPE kits, masks, gloves, face shield, head cover, shoe cover, plastic bottles, sanitiser bottles and other such waste have high calorific value. It can be best used at waste-to-energy plants, can be autoclaved and shredded or recycled, Mr. Nilawar said. SMS Water Grace has urged the government to allow it to expand in a nearby plot and increase the capacity, considering the increased load due to COVID-19 waste. It has also demanded that the Directorate General of Health Services pay it Rs 50 per kg of COVID-19 waste as the “facility is struggling to meet the expenses”. The demands are being looked into at the appropriate level, according to a senior government official.
Vikas Gehlot of Biotic Waste Solutions said the facility had been treating 14 tonnes of bio-medical waste per day before the coronavirus outbreak. “Now, we are disposing of around 22 tonnes of waste (12 tonnes COVID and 10 tonnes non-COVID) per day,” he said. The facility has requested the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to transfer waste to waste-to-energy plants for two-three days so that it can carry out preventive maintenance. The pressure is going to increase as the number of cases grow, he said.