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Environment clearance must for biomedical waste plants: NGT

 The Statesman, New Delhi, 28 November 2013

The National Green Tribunal today held that biomedical waste (BMW) treatment plants are required to obtain environmental clearance (EC) before these are set up as it is a hazardous waste which can produce a large number of infectious diseases.

A Bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar and judicial member Justice U D Salvi observed that BMW, if not dealt with properly, can have an adverse impact on public health and directed such treatment plants to obtain EC from the environment ministry within a month.

“Scientific studies show that bio-medical waste is one of the more serious and hazardous pollutants and it can produce large number of infectious diseases which would be very harmful to the humanity at large. Their impact on public health can be very adverse and it is not only expected but is mandatory that such bio-medical waste is dealt with strictly… We hold that the bio-medical waste treatment plants are required to obtain environmental clearance... We direct all the appellants (BMW treatment plants) and respondents (project proponents) to obtain EC in terms of site location, potential environmental impacts and proposed environmental safeguards from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in accordance with law,” the Bench said.

“If such applications are filed before MoEF, the same shall be dealt with and disposed of expeditiously,” it added.

After the counsel for Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) sought that a timeframe be fixed for the BMW units to approach MoEF for environmental clearance, the Bench directed that “applications by the plants handling, segregating and treating BMW shall apply to MoEF within one month from today”.

The issue had come up before the tribunal while dealing with the status of BMW disposal in hospitals in Delhi and Haryana.