Manipur COVID-19 Crisis: Locals oppose waste disposal at Lamdeng main site

The disposal of bio-medical as well as other general solid wastes generated from quarantine centres and COVID-19 wards in hospitals have been a major concern for many with the prevailing threat of COVID-19 pandemic.

The disposal of bio-medical as well as other general solid wastes generated from quarantine centres and COVID-19 wards in hospitals have been a major concern for many with the prevailing threat of COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the wake of rising number of COVID-19 positive cases in the state, issues have cropped up in the disposal of solid wastes at the solid waste to energy plant (Lamdeng solid waste management plant) located at Lamdeng in Imphal West. 

Manager of the plant, RK Madhurjit, told the Imphal Free Press, that the locals of Lamdeng have mounted pressure on him many times not to dispose the solid wastes in the main disposal site alongside the composting machine but to dispose the wastes at the temporary disposal site. 

“The locals have expressed their opposition on the ground that there is possibility of bio-medical as well as solid wastes generated from quarantine centres being dumped in the site, which may pose a risk to the labourers who are mostly from Lamdeng,” stated Madhurjit. 

In this regard, deputy director, health and family welfare, S Ingocha clarified that the bio-medical wastes are either buried deeply or incinerated as per the ‘Guidelines for Handling, Treatment and Disposal of Waste Generated during Treatment/Diagnosis/Quarantine of COVID-19 Patients’ issued by Central Pollution Control Board on April 18. 

While RIMS and JNIMS have their own incinerator, the bio-medical wastes generated from other hospitals and quarantine centres are disposed of by the Shija Hospitals, which possess the only licensed Common Bio-medical Wastes Treatment Facility, he stated.

As per the guidelines, management of general solid wastes generated from quarantine centres or hospitals are assigned to urban local bodies. Director, Municipal Administration, Housing and Urban Development, Th Harikumar said that the general wastes are not taken to the waste management plant at Lamdeng.

“The wastes are either buried or burnt down at the quarantine centre itself as we do not want to take any risks. Besides, it is not possible to collect wastes from all quarantine centres spread across the state in one place as many municipalities are not well equipped. As such, disposal in the centre itself is the best solution,” added Harikumar. 

It may be mentioned here that locals have also demanded to do away with the rejected wastes being piled up in the sanitary landfill, before taking in more garbage. 

The plant manager intimated that it cannot be fulfilled for the time being as the rejected wastes have to be converted into land mass by covering them with soil after they have reached a certain extent. 

Ibochou Chingangbam, while representing the locals, contended that sanitisation and disinfecting drives are not carried out regularly in the area despite repeated appeals. As told by him, there is also the danger of a serious health hazard with the foul smell coming out from the wastes being piled up. “As such, we have been demanding to do away with the huge amount of rejected wastes being piled up at the plant before disposal of more wastes collected from various places of the state and to dispose further garbage in the temporary site,” added Ibochou. 

The temporary disposal site is located around 200 metres away from the main site where the composting machine is located. 

The problem with the disposal of wastes in the temporary site, according to NGOs working under IMC for wastes collection and disposal, is bad condition of the road as the site is basically a paddy field earlier. 

“With pre-monsoon rains setting in, it is impossible to reach the site because of all the mud,” said secretary, Centre for Research on Environmental Development (CRED), Leikhendro while intimating that they have stopped disposal for the past more than one week. 

According to the plant manager, the plant can process about 30 percent of wastes into compost and biomass for producing electricity and 70 per cent becomes rejected wastes. 

It is said that an average of 110 tons of solid waste are disposed at the site each day. Moreover, wastes collected cannot be processed into compost or other usable biomass right after it is brought. Treatment takes a minimum of 20 days and afterwards it is to be processed, explained Madhurjit.

First Published:June 5, 2020, 1:09 a.m.