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Mumbai: ‘Shift bio-waste plant immediately’

Updated on: 02 August,2023 07:01 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

Green tribunal-appointed panel submits recommendation to shift the Govandi plant to Khalapur ‘as expeditiously as possible’

Mumbai: ‘Shift bio-waste plant immediately’

Smoke comes out of the chimney of the city’s lone biomedical waste treatment facility at Govandi. File pic/Sameer Abedi

The National Green Tribunal (NGT)-appointed Joint Action Committee (JAC) has submitted its action taken report and recommendations regarding the biomedical waste treatment plant in Govandi. The committee strongly advocates relocating the plant to Khalapur “as expeditiously as possible”.

The committee also suggests that the relevant local planning authority must allocate a 500 metre buffer zone around the facility, in consultation with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the State Urban Development Department (UDD).

The committee, comprising Nischal C, scientist ‘D’ at the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Regional Directorate; Sujit Dholam, sub-regional officer MPCB-Mumbai III, and Avanti Mayekar—Naib Tehsildar, Kurla (Mulund) as a representative of the district magistrate—visited the SMS Envoclean common biomedical waste treatment plant (CBMWTF) on May 17, 2023.

The biomedical waste facility at Govandi last year. File pic
The biomedical waste facility at Govandi last year. File pic

According to the revised guidelines of the CPCB on CBWTF, it should ideally be situated far from residential and sensitive areas and should have a buffer distance of 500 metres to minimise its impact on these areas. However, in cases where such land is not available, the buffer zone distance may be reduced by the State Pollution Control Board/Committee (SPCB/PCC) with additional control measures to mitigate adverse effects on the environment and surrounding habitation.

The JAC’s recommendations have already been submitted, and a senior BMC official assured that appropriate action would be taken accordingly. Speaking to mid-day, Avinash Dhakne, the new member secretary of MPCB, said, “The talks are on with MIDC for land in Taloja to shift the plant, as the environmental clearance for setting up the plant in Khalapur was rejected.”

The NGT intervention came after Govandi and Deonar residents approached the tribunal in April 2022, alleging that the biomedical waste treatment plant in the area worsened tuberculosis (TB) cases due to pollution. They demanded the plant’s relocation, and the NGT constituted a joint committee to investigate the matter.

Advocate Said Alam, who is representing the residents and also the complainant, expressed dissatisfaction with the inspection process, stating that he was not informed about the sampling and investigation conducted in May. “BMC and MPCB must expedite the process to shift the CBMWTP. The report also advises that it needs to be shifted asap to Khalapur, but it might take years to get Environmental Clearance (EC) since it has been rejected once. We demand that the plant be immediately shifted to Taloja. The western zone bench should make an interim order on the report and impose a penalty on the BMC for making citizens suffer for so many years.”

Other violations found

During the inspection, the committee also found violations related to inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers handling biomedical waste. They directed MPCB to instruct the CBMWTF management to address this issue. Furthermore, the CBMWTF was found disposing of treated glass bottles to a company without proper permission, leading to non-compliance with regulations.

Recommendations by the committee

£CBMWTF should operate at the new facility in Vill. Atkargaon, Tal. Khalapur, Dist. Raigad, once environmental clearance is received.
£The local planning authority/ULB should earmark the location of the newly proposed CBMWTF in the development plan remarks.
£Ensure a 500 metre buffer zone around the CBMWTF in consultation with MPCB and the State urban development department (UDD).
£MPCB should direct the CBMWTF to provide adequate PPEs (N-95 mask, acid/alkali proof rubber gloves, safety goggles) to workers handling biomedical waste.
£CBMWTF must dispose of treated glass bottles only to authorised recyclers, and MPCB should act against non-compliance by CBMWTF and M/s Piyush Plastic, Chakan, Pune

Recommended buffer zone around facility

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