THE National Environment Committee coming to ask the public agencies concerned to collect, carry and dump solid wastes from households in a segregated way to ensure a proper waste management is welcome. The committee at a meeting on Thursday asked city and municipality authorities and other local government bodies across the country to develop a system to collect biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes in segregation to curb the health risks of people and to protect land and water bodies. The committee, in a draft resolution, also mentions that each household will have to segregate perishable and imperishable wastes and that the local government bodies will have to develop a safe mode of transport for carrying wastes separately and have to develop an effective system to recycle and reuse the wastes. Roughly 40 per cent wastes — medical wastes, electrical and electronic wastes, construction wastes and kitchen wastes, among others — produced in the country are dumped in a haphazard manner. The executive committee also expressed concern over the absence of a proper medical waste management system outside the capital and asked the authorities concerned for initiating pilot projects on medical waste management at district towns in association with local government bodies.
The committee has asked hospitals and clinics for developing incinerators or effluent treatment plants in phases. Haphazard dumping of medical waste is, keeping to a United Nations Conference on Environment and Development report, responsible for the death of about 5.2 million people, including four million children, in the world each year. The committee is also reported to have expressed concern over the unabated use of single-use polythene and plastic, even though there is a ban and a number of court directives banning and discouraging polythene and plastic use. A study by the Environment and Social Development Organisation shows that annually 87,000 tonnes of single-use plastic containers are thrown away in Bangladesh which ends up in different water bodies and water ways including the sea. Unplanned disposal of domestic wastes, kitchen market wastes, faecal sludge, medical and electric wastes keeps on polluting the environment, adversely impacting fertility of the soil and spreading diseases. Improper management of wastes also has an impact on the food chain as plants and animals bioaccumulate heavy metals, present in the wastes, from the environment and the plants and animals, used as sources of food, then contribute to the uptake of heavy metals by humans.
In such a situation, the government must heed the recommendations that the executive committee has come up with. Required attention and budget allocation must also be given to reusing and recycling of solid waste to transform them into wealth, and to do that, coordination among the relevant agencies has to be ensured to get the maximum result. The authorities concerned must also train and make the households aware to segregate perishable and imperishable wastes for eventual collection and disposal of them.
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