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Riverbank sick with biomedical wastes

Forty-eight hours after Jharkhand High Court slammed urban bodies for failing to properly dispose of biomedical waste, the city on Wednesday witnessed the usual heap of syringes, soiled cotton, gloves and used drugs littered below the bridge on Subernarekha banks, ironically opposite the city’s main welcome gates in Mango.

Justices D.N. Patel and P.P. Bhatt, hearing a PIL filed by NGO Jharkhand Human Rights Conference seeking proper disposal of biomedical waste in Ranchi, Dhanbad and Jamshedpur had on Monday observed that civic bodies did not follow Biomedical Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules and Jharkhand Biomedical Waste Management Rules.

Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011, promulgated under the Environment Protection Act of 1986, put the onus of biomedical waste management on municipal corporations and urban local bodies. Civic bodies need to provide suitable common disposal or incineration sites while hospitals and others generating biomedical wastes must take the items to those designated places.

Doing both is imperative for health and human and ecological safety. Hospitals and clinics generate wastes such as bandages, soiled cotton, body parts, needle, syringes, medicines and so on from wards, operating theatres and outpatient areas, which need to be collected, segregated and disposed of to prevent contamination and infection.

But, on the ground, ignorance and carelessness abound.

The president of Jamshedpur-based Jharkhand Human Rights Conference, Manoj Mishra said most organisations and civic bodies did not care.

“Hospitals, nursing homes and medical shop owners, in the absence of a proper place to dispose of medical waste, find river banks a convenient dumping ground. No one thinks of the adverse effect of this on health and ecology. I have met officials of Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee and Mango Notified Area Committee several times but nothing has been done so far,” he said.

When The Telegraph asked Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee (JNAC) special officer Deepak Sahay, he feigned ignorance about the dumping of biomedical wastes near Subernarekha. Then, he passed the buck to Mango Notified Area Committee (MNAC). “The area comes under the jurisdiction of MNAC. Better speak to MNAC,” Sahay said.

MNAC special officer Jagadish Yadav, on his part, said he was in Ranchi to attend a departmental meeting of urban development. “I will take up remedial steps after coming to the city,” he said.

East Singhbhum civil surgeon Vibha Sharan was brave enough to admit that barring major hospitals, “very few have incinerators to dispose of biomedical waste in the district”.

Jamshedpur Nursing Home Association, an umbrella outfit of nursing homes and clinics in Jamshedpur, Adityapur and Gamharia, claimed not to know that biomedical wastes were being dumped on riverbanks.

“We finalised a Dhanbad-based agency M/s Biogeneric Laboratory Pvt. Ltd in 2012 to dispose of biomedical wastes. They charge health centres on per-bed basis. Institutions that haven’t got themselves registered or renewed annual registration might be dumping wastes,” said Jamshedpur Nursing Home Association president A.C. Akhoury.