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Byculla lives with bio-medical waste; ragpickers blamed

The reason: The prestigious Masina hospital, flouting all rules, has dumped huge bags of biomedical waste on the road outside the hospital and the BMC, it appears, is least bothered.

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Byculla residents have been forced to live in unhygienic conditions with the stench of adult diapers, bloodied cotton swabs, gauges, syringes, needles, used intravenous tubes and an endless list of biomedical waste for the past 20 days.

The reason: The prestigious Masina hospital, flouting all rules, has dumped huge bags of biomedical waste on the road outside the hospital and the BMC, it appears, is least bothered.

Though the hospital has neither accepted nor denied that it has flouted rules, authorities have blamed ragpickers for the current mess. Residents of Rustom Baug, Jer Baug, Jain Colony and the area around the hospital say they have complained to the hospital authorities as well as to the civic body, but nothing has come of it.

Social activist Vyomesh Panchmatia said he has repeatedly complained to the hospital authorities. “I went to the hospital and lodged a complaint. I even asked for an appointment with the medical director,” he said. “But the staff at the reception insisted that he was not available.”

Panchmatia’s office is opposite the hospital. “The sight is so dreadful that it will make you feel sick,” he said. “Just imagine how people have been living for the past couple of weeks… all these blood-stained cotton and adult diapers, used needles and syringes… How can a prestigious hospital allow this to happen?”

Another resident from Rustom Baug said the hospital authorities does not seem interested to clean the mess. “It is least bothered about the hygiene.”

What does the hospital have to say? Dr RB Dastur, the hospital’s medical director, did not deny that bags of biomedical waste have been lying in the open. He, however, blamed ragpickers for the used medical stuff spilling on to the road.

“They take the bags out of the hospital premises through a hole in the boundary wall. Once the bags are on the road, they take whatever is useful to them leaving the rest out in the open,” Dastur said.

“We have two huge steel containers for dumping biomedical waste,” he said. But these ragpickers can get away easily through the hole in the darkness of night.” The director, however, did not say why the hospital has not repaired the boundary wall. Also, he did not say why the bags have been lying on the road for so many days.

He, however, said that halogens bulbs would be installed and security strengthened to keep ragpickers at bay. He also assured that the BMC-appointed contractor would clear the bags at the earliest.

The BMC has appointed a contractor for the city’s hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other medical institutions that generate biomedical waste. The contractor gets a fee for clearing the waste and taking it to the incinerator at the Deonar dumping ground.

The city generates more than 12 tonnes of biomedical waste that is carried to Deonar every day. Several high-profile hospitals have their own autoclaves and incinerators to treat biomedical waste.

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