Disposal of biomedical waste is becoming a nightmare for smaller healthcare units in the city. While SMS Envoclean, the civic body-appointed agency with the sole charge of collection and incineration of the refuse in the city, has been removing the waste from large hospitals, nursing homes, clinics or private doctors' chambers have complained that the waste is not collected by the agency on a daily basis. Sometimes, it gets accumulated for weeks and even up to a month, they say.
As per rules, biomedical waste, which includes syringes, needles, live vaccines, lab samples, body parts, bodily fluids and waste, is supposed to be removed within 24-48 hours from all units. A couple of individual practitioners have told dna that they often complain to the BMC and the state pollution control board following which the waste is collected, but only to be repeated soon after.
"Biomedical waste is infectious and we cannot mix it with regular trash. The agency is supposed to collect it from my chamber every alternate day. However, it now happens once a week. And sometimes, it remains uncollected for weeks," said a medical practitioner who did not want to be identified.
An official from SMS Envoclean said, "There are around 15,000-18,000 clinics in Mumbai and only 6,000 of them are registered with us. While there is a fixed legal enforcement law in case of hospitals and diagnostic centres, the same is not with clinics. So a large number of them chose not to register on grounds that they do not generate biomedical waste. If in some clinics it is not happening in every 48 hours, that could be because they have registered for weekly removal."
The official also said that if a clinic wants biomedical waste to be collected every alternate day, it has to pay a higher service charge.
Shivkumar Utture, office bearer and past president, Indian Medical Association, Maharashtra State, said, "A number of our members have had complaints regarding the frequency of waste collection from their places. From my hospital, its get collected every alternate day. I think the agency might have a shortage of manpower." Utture runs a small hospital in a suburb and pays Rs 1,573 per month.
A civic official said SMS Envoclean is responsible from collection to incineration of the waste and that the BMC trains people on segregation of biomedical waste. "All healthcare establishments must register with this agency. The complainants should speak to the people responsible from the agency. I think the agency is well-equipped and there is no shortage of manpower," he said on condition of anonymity.