CHENNAI: There is an unprecedented rush among private hospitals in Chennai and neighbouring districts to obtain consent from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) after several years of their operation. It’s astonishing that TNPCB has granted consent to around 200 hospitals in Chennai alone within last 20 days.
This followed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) here coming hard against hospitals that were going scot free in disposing ‘potentially infectious’ bio-medical waste and operating without valid consent from the board under Water Act and Air Act and authorisation under Bio-medical Waste Rules (Management and Handling) Rules. 1998.
However, when TNPCB has submitted the latest data on list of private hospitals in the four districts (Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore) and their consent and bio-medical authorisation details on Tuesday before the second bench of NGT, there were glaring discrepancies and contradictions.
For instance, TNPCB data submitted last month says out of 397 private hospitals in Chennai only 133 were operating with valid consent.
Now, the latest data shows a contradictory figure. It says out of the total 351 hospitals 333 have consent. This is the same with all other three districts as well.
Also, S. Charles Rodriquez, Joint Chief Environmental Engineer, gave clean chit to all hospitals in the four districts saying they are disposing their bio-medical wastes to the common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facilities of either Tamil Nadu Waste Management Ltd in Kinnar village in Kancheepuram or G.J. Multiclave India (P) Ltd at Thenmelpakkam in Chengalpattu.
This surprised the tribunal and the judge P. Jyothimani asked TNPCB to submit a detailed report on number of private hospitals, date of their commencement and date of approval of consent.
Interestingly, counsel for Indian Medical Association (IMA), which was impleaded in the case, submitted the hospitals list that showed there were over 700 hospitals in the four districts.
Justice Jyothimani said the tribunal would contemplate imposing polluter pays principle on all hospitals operating without consent for years after getting a consolidated list.
The case has been posted for January 18 for further orders. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, petitioner’s counsel M. Velmurgan questioned the hurry in which the TNPCB was granting consent to private hospitals.
The green bench in the previous hearing clearly stated that each application should be carefully studied, whether the hospital was disposing the bio-medical waste scientifically all these years, before giving consent.
Process of consent should be simplified: IMA
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, IMA president (elect) Ravishankar said TNPCB should simplify the process for hospitals to get consent. “For the past 10 years, we have been asking the pollution control board to give a separate format to apply for consent. At present, the hospitals are being treated like industry.
“Many private hospitals have applied for consent online, but their applications were rejected because all the blanks were not filled. IMA has prepared a format and gave it to TNPCB for consideration, but the board hasn’t taken a call”, he said.
Abdul Saleem, special government pleader, was also of the view that TNPCB should have a separate form for hospitals....