Union Minister of Health and Family
Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has
underlined the need for
long term solutions for management of biomedical waste so as to ease the
pressure on health and environment, specifically in a pandemic like situation.
His message was read out at a recent webinar.
“The need for biomedical waste
management is quite significant today, there is a need for strict compliance of
the rules and regulations already in place for safe disposal of such biomedical
waste”, he added while thanking India Water Foundation (IWF) and United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) for supporting member states, including India,
through an environmental strategy to protect people.
The high-level webinar on ‘The Future of
Liquid Waste Management amidst COVID-19: What lies ahead?’ was jointly organized
by the India Water Foundation (IWF) and
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supported by the Department of
Science & Technology (DST), Government of India and Department of Drinking
Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti recently. The webinar focused
on the future of liquid waste management and effective management of biomedical
The main objective was to have a
holistic understanding on various facets of waste management in context of
COVID-19 along with socio-environmental impacts. The sudden onset of the
COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 has imposed massive health and economic burdens
on communities around the world and affected every sector of society, including
the waste-water sector. Among all the categories of biomedical waste, liquid
wastes pose a serious threat to human health and the environment because of
their ability to enter watersheds, pollute groundwater and drinking water when
improperly handled and disposed.
Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, highlighted about innovations to tackle this waste that have been
developed in the last 4-5 months like garbage bins with virus neutralizing
inner lining for hospitals by institutions like Sree Chitra
Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, Trivandrum.
They are now being produced commercially.
Prof. Sharma explained the connection of
water with a range of sectors. “75% of the water goes to agriculture, and there
is also a nexus between water and health, especially in the times of COVID 19.
Even when the COVID 19 would disappear from the world, water problems would
still be there. Science & Technology is not the limiting factor to prevent
the use and abuse of water. There are a whole lot of factors like economics of
situation, public behaviour, and awareness in the society which need to be
focused to prevent the abuse of water,” he pointed out.
“The upcoming Science, Technology and
Innovation Policy, 2020 with a very wide stakeholder consultation will address
many of the issues connected to water,” added Prof. Sharma.
Speakers highlighted the lack of
reliable data on sewage generation, treatment of sewage, and capacity
utilization of the existing sewage treatment infrastructure.
The webinar was attended by experts like
Dr. Arvind Kumar, President, India Water Foundation, Atul Bagai, Head of
Country Office UNEP India, Payden, Deputy World Health Organisation
Representative to India, Dr. Muralee Thummarukudy, Chief of Disaster Risk
Reduction, UNEP, Dr. Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, Regional Coordinator for Resource
Efficiency(UNEP), Shiv Das Meena, Chairman Central Pollution Control Board, Dr.
Rajnarayan R Tiwari, Director of ICMR- NIREH (National Institute for Research
in Environmental Health), Swapan Mehra Vice President (Waste to Wealth), Invest
India. Policymakers, practitioners and technical experts, professionals, UN and
international agencies, development partners involved in waste management,
bio-medical waste, sewage, finance, and circular economy, civil society
organizations interacted with participants from UNEP, India Water Foundation,
and other organisations at the technical session.