Monday, March 8, 2010


Solid waste includes domestic waste, food & kitchen waste, and bio-medical waste. The news is that a large number of hospitals are being planned in Dwarka, apart from a large number of dispensaries and laboratories already functioning. The infected waste generating from these health care premises is presently being thrown wherever convenient. Thus the small quantity of infected waste will infect a huge quantity of municipal solid waste and pose a serious threat to the society at large. Those engaged in collecting and removing the waste without disinfection are at the risk of contracting infectious diseases as they will not be using any protective clothing, or gear.

Proper disposal of the waste generated by the citizens is a societal responsibility. This is clearly stated in the relevant rules. The solid waste handling and disposal is governed by the SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT AND HANDLING RULES promulgated by an extraordinary gazette of the Min of Env & Forest, Govt of India-2000, and the bio-medical waste under the BIO-MEDICAL (MANAGEMENT AND HANDLING) RULES, 1998.

For the bio-medical waste it has been stated in the Rules that " It shall be the duty of every occupier of an institution generating bio-medical waste which includes a hospital, nursing home, clinic, dispensary, veterinary institution, animal home, pathological laboratory, blood bank by whatever name called to take all steps to ensure that such waste is handled without any adverse effect to human health and the environment." It is the duty of the prescribed authority to satisfy that the laid down conditions for safe disposal after disinfection are met before granting license to operate any health care outlet. Under no circumstances the bio-medical waste is to be mixed with other waste. The municipal authorities will continue to be responsible for collection, transportation and disposal of other waste (including treated bio-medical waste) from the health care premises. For Delhi, the Prescribed Authority is the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). Either the DPCC helps in rendering advice to those who do not know how to lay down a proper hospital waste management system, or create an advisory body, as provided for in the Rules.

Management and handling of municipal solid waste is primarily the responsibility of the civic body, like the Municipal Corporation/ Council/ Nagar Panchayat. This is clearly provided in the Municipal Waste Handling Rules. Some of the relevant provisions are: -

1. Prohibit littering on the roads
2. Organize house to house waste collection and notify the public about the schedule and the methodology of collection
3. Conduct awareness programs……..and hold regular meetings with the resident welfare groups and the NGOs
4. Devise ways to collect the waste from difficult areas, such as slums, hotels etc and the commercial areas.
5. Build adequate storage facility
6. Color code waste bins so as to promote segregation of waste at the source.
7. Transport the waste only in closed vans to avoid spilling of waste
8. Disposal of collected waste as per prescribed method.

The responsibility of the citizen is also defined in these Rules. These are only two as follows:-

1. Avoid littering and ensure delivery of the waste as per the notified system by the local body
2. Segregation of waste at source

Presently there is no planned methodology either for bio-medical waste or for the municipal solid waste. It has been learnt that the DDA is trying to wash off its hands saying that it is only responsible for the construction activity, and not for the disposal of waste. That would be the responsibility of the civic bodies. The NDMC on the other hand feels that since the township has not been handed over to them they have no role to play. The population in the meantime is increasing and so is the quantity of waste and filth, which is against the spirit of the duties prescribed in these two rules. The waste and the filth continue to adversely affect the human health and the environment.

The Solid Waste Rules also provides for a citizen's right to complain. Under section 19, any citizen can lodge a complaint in the court stating the intent to file a complaint to the court and proceed further. There are other constitutional provisions (since improper disposal tends to adversely affect the health, and thus infringe on the fundamental right to life) under which legal interventions can be requested.

There are two things, which must be done immediately. Firstly the DDA must be made to appreciate that they cannot, and should not wash off their hands from such important societal responsibility. And the second that the DPCC and the health department must authorize, including renewal, the hospitals, dispensaries, laboratories etc, only after fully satisfying that proper disposal of bio-medical waste has been ensured by the applicant. Many eating places have come up. If there is a complaint on hygienic condition (lack of it) of one of the eating joints then where does one complaint? In the present scenario, the DDA does not have a medical officer, and the sub-city has not been handed over to the NDMC. So where does a citizen go?

Changes are difficult to come by. Let us live in hope that things will brighten for Dwarka residents, since it is professed to be a modern and clean township.

Lalji K Verma

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