Chandigarh: Biomedical waste generated at the PGIMER, landing in the hands of unscrupulous scrap dealers, with the possible alleged connivance of staff members, could finally result in spreading hazardous infection in the city. A TOI investigation team that managed to procure the waste sold illegally for a few bucks from a scrap dealer has proved the business of illegal procurement taking place in the city.
The team posing as students reached a scrap dealer’s outlet in Khuda Lahora, just 3 km from the premier medical institute and managed to purchase 50 intravenous lines,10 plastic glucose bottles, 250 syringes, and 250 needles, for a measly sum of Rs.400
Interestingly the dealer did not provide the Biomedical waste to the seekers of it, immediately, and took a 2 week time period for procuring it from the Institute for them.
“I have undertaken this risk of getting the items you had asked for. There is a lot of security in PGI these days. However, once I get my ‘license’, I can get any amount of biomedical waste, whenever you want,” stated the man to the daily while handing over the waste.
The Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016, call for all such items to be disposed of properly, after processing in order to prevent their recycling and infection spread.
The PGI, Medical Superintendent, Dr Pankaj Arora, when confronted conceded to the waste belonging to the PGI, as the glucose bottle purchased by the team had a tag mentioning the name of the hospital.
The PGI authorities on discovering the hazard immediately reported the matter to the police and also initiated an investigation into the alleged pilferage, in connivance with the staff.
“We shall issue a show-cause notice to the contractor and if found guilty, his contract will be terminated.”
Anurag Aggarwal, Health Secretary, UT Administration, said an explanation will be sought from PGI in the matter. “Despite a notice to the hospital about biomedical waste pilferage about four months ago, how can this illegal practice still continue? The institute has to trace the accused, as such pilferage is only possible if staff members are involved,” he told TOI. Expressing anxiety over the spread of infection, the health secretary said, “I will ask the Chandigarh Pollution Control Board to conduct an inquiry on how scrap dealers are selling biomedical waste illegally.”
P J S Dadwal, Secretary, Member, Chandigarh Pollution Control Board, revealed that a majority of scrap dealers in the city were into illegal transactions. “We had written to the estate office to remove them from the site. But till date, no action has been taken.”
The dual chamber incinerator at PGI that has run for 19 years and processes 150kg of waste per hour has run out of years, now suffering frequent breakdowns and resulting in piling of wastes.
The incinerator now calls for manual placement of toxic wastes inside the furnace. The Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, does not have an incinerator and has a daily biomedical waste generation ranging between 400 and 500 kg. PGI more often than not refuses to aid its neighbor.
According to a WHO report waste generated from hospitals is 85 % non-hazardous,5% non-infectious but hazardous and 10% infectious.
According to Indian Society of Hospital Waste Management, the quantum of waste that is generated in India is estimated to be 1-2 kg per bed per day in a hospital and 600 gm per day per bed in a general practitioner’s clinic. Needles are supposed to be destroyed after use, however, in this case, some have been found intact and available for resale in the open market, reports TOI.