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70 tonnes of litter in SSKM sweep
A Calcutta Municipal Corporation pay-loader removes garbage from the SSKM Hospital grounds on Monday morning. About 70 tonnes of refuse and bio-medical waste were cleared from the campus and will be burnt in incinerators, as part of mayor Subrata Mukherjee’s ‘Operation U-turn’ to clean up the city’s state government-run hospitals. Picture by Amit Datta

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) removed 70 tonnes of garbage, including hazardous bio-medical waste, and a dozen stray dogs from the SSKM Hospital campus on the first day of ‘Operation U-turn’ on Monday morning.

By evening, the superintendent of MR Bangur Hospital had requested the mayor’s help to remove tonnes of accumulated rotten pillows, quilts and blankets from its premises.

Since such waste cannot be dumped at the Dhapa dumping ground, the civic authorities will incinerate the drive collections.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee launched the project, dubbed Operation U-turn, following a request from principal secretary (health) Asim Barman, to help clean up the mounds of waste at the medical sites. It is to continue at various government hospitals till November 15.

With the garbage at hospitals reaching alarming proportions “due to non-functioning of the PWD and health department’s sweepers”, the CMC will not charge hospitals for the service this time, said the mayor.

The dog-squad van accommodates only 12 dogs, which is why many animals escaped the net on Monday. There are more to be rounded up, said officials.

“The drive will continue at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday,” said Rajib Deb, member, mayor-in-council (conservancy). The state government had roped in the civic body to clean city hospitals during the 1996 Operation Sunshine as well.

Chief engineer (conservancy) Arun Sarkar and assistant director Swapan Mahapatra, supervising the drive, found “huge amounts” of bio-medical waste, including syringes, empty saline bottles, pipes, blood-stained bandages, cotton and gloves that had been dumped along with normal garbage. A truckload of discarded plastic cups was cleared.

There were no dustbins on the campus. The CMC has offered to provide the authorities with bins to curb the littering menace. Though there are 500 sweepers on the state pay-roll at SSKM, all three CMC dumpsters were empty on Monday.

Four major hospitals were found not to have cleared waste for months. The trash count is, according to Sarkar, as follows:

• SSKM has, in seven months, accumulated 70 tonnes of waste

• Nilratan Sirkar Hospital has not cleared trash for nine months, gathering 90 tonnes

• Forty tonnes of trash are scattered on the RG Kar campus, gathered for over seven months

• National Medical College has generated 10 tonnes of trash in eight months.

The CMC drive will cover the RG Kar, Calcutta Medical College and National Medical College hospitals on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday this week.

In the second phase, NRS Medical College, MR Bangur and Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, including the cancer hospital, will be cleaned on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of the following week.

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