A total of 23 hospitals and clinics have been penalised by the nuisance detection squad of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), which has issued fines to the tune of Rs 2.19 lakh for improper dumping of biomedical waste.
Such dumping is a major pollution and sanitation issue in India. Hundreds of tonnes of medical waste are generated each day: the 550.9 tonnes generated daily last year is expected to increase by 775.5 tonnes by 2020. To crack down on the issue, authorities across the country are issuing fines and show cause notices to offenders.
In Nagpur, the offenders are being penalised for mixing biomedical waste with trash when proper practice dictates that biomedical waste should be segregated and disposed of separately. The fines issued there are not the most extreme example of penalties for offenders. In Goa earlier this year, 350 facilities faced closure because of their failure to properly dispose of medical waste. Delhi authorities ordered the closure of 32 facilities earlier this year for failure to appropriately handle biomedical waste.
District-level committees were convened in Nagpur earlier this year to oversee collection and scientific disposal of biomedical waste. Chaired by the respective district collector, other members include the deputy municipal commissioner, chief medical officer, district civil surgeon, district health officer, an Indian Medical Association (IMA) representative and a Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) representative.
“The state-level committee has been formed to monitor whether guidelines of Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016, are being implemented in a proper manner,” the notification announcing the committees read. “The committee also gives advisories related to the rules. On lines of the state-level committee, the district-level advisory committee will also be formed. All the collectors should initiate necessary steps related to formation of the committee.”
The committees’ formation followed on from complaints about biomedical waste being dumped in the open in the city, posing a major hazard to health. The NMC’s nuisance squads form part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a sanitation campaign to improve living standards across the country. Ensuring appropriate penalties for violators and vigilance by authorities are much-needed steps to counteract the crisis.