BBMP waste collectors don’t touch waste from houses that have Covid patients
Bengaluru: In several parts of the city, biomedical waste produced by home-isolated Covid-19 patients is being dumped in Bellahalli, near Yelahanka, as unsegregated waste.
Rahul Hipparkar, the driver of a BBMP garbage-collection truck, said: “All the waste collected, except for a certain category of plastics, is taken to Bellahalli. We dump the waste of all 198 wards in the dumpyard.”
The waste generated by home-isolated Covid patients is supposed to be discarded by family members.
Salim Pasha, a BBMP waste collector, said: “We don’t touch waste from houses that have Covid patients. They’ll have to throw it in the auto themselves which we dump later in the truck.”
In the wake of the pandemic, waste collected from houses with Covid patients is treated as biomedical waste. The biomedical waste is supposed to be placed in yellow non-chlorinated bags and incinerated.
P. Vishwanath, chief engineer, solid waste management, BBMP, said: “Covid patients who are home isolated will be provided yellow bags. All their biomedical waste, like masks, gloves, PPE kits, sanitary waste and injections, should be dumped in that. It will be collected separately by our waste collectors in auto tippers and incinerated. We have four incineration plants.”
However, home isolated Covid patients said they were not provided any yellow bags to dispose of their biomedical waste.
Naveen Kumar, one such patient, shared: “I was not provided with any bag. We disposed of biomed waste on a dry waste collection day.”
Timamma V, a pourakarmika, said: “A lot of them throw used masks on the road. We have to pick and throw them in the BBMP truck. We have only been provided with gloves and masks, and no sanitizer.”
According to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, the state generated 2,401 tonnes of Covid biomedical waste between March 2020 and November 2020. Almost all of it was scientifically incinerated or buried deep.
According to BBMP’s 2016 SWM rules, household waste is categorized as dry waste, wet waste and sanitary waste. The sanitary waste will include all the domestic biomedical waste like medicines, empty chemical bottles, diapers and used sanitary napkins.
However, even sanitary napkins are not being collected separately and are being mixed with dry waste.
Ahana Shetty, a resident of Rajarajeshwari Nagar, said: “Only wet and dry waste is collected, so we discard sanitary waste as dry waste.”
According to data released by the Central Pollution Control Board, Karnataka is the fifth largest biomedical waste-producing state, with 16.91 tonnes per day.If PPE kits, syringes, masks, expired medicines, glucose bottles and medical equipment are not disposed of properly, they could prove hazardous to the environment and cause harmful diseases like HIV, typhoid and cholera.