Punjab pollution board pulls up 54 hospitals

Written by fe Bureau | Chandigarh | Updated: Jul 18 2011, 07:09am hrs
Punjab pollution control board (PPCB) has slapped notices on 54 government and private hospitals for violation of various norms for managing and handling bio-medical waste.

Teams of the nodal agency conducted raids throughout the state and found that a large number of hospitals have been violating pollution control norms.

KS Pannu, chairman of the Board told FE that Notices have been issued to 54 hospitals that were found violating the various norms of Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998 during surprise checks.

He also said that there were apprehensions that some health care facilities were not complying with the guidelines of Bio-Medical Waste (BMW) Rules and 22 teams were sent to conduct raids throughout the state.

The teams, headed by senior environmental engineers and environmental engineers, raided a total 108 hospitals. All these hospitals were scrutinised minutely and the 54 government and private hospitals were found violating the various provisions of the BMW Rules.

Significantly, at least eight state government hospitals were also found to be violating pollution control board norms and were issued the notices. The government hospitals that failed to meet bio-medical waste norms include Mata Kaushalya Government Hospital, Patiala; and civil hospitals in Faridkot, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Sangrur, Malerkotla, Hoshiarpur and Bathinda.

Among private hospitals, prominent ones that have been issued notices include Tagore Hospital, Jalandhar; Amardeep Hospital, Amritsar; Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, Ludhiana; Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Bathinda; and eight government hospitals.

Talking to FE, Rohit Sabharwal, president, anti-corruption and crime investigation cell, an NGO informed that it had sought information under the RTI Act and found that several hospitals that were given show cause notices in 2003, 2006 and 2008 for improper disposal of the bio-medical waste were still functioning without any action taken against them.

Reports indicate that many hospitals were either dumping their bio-medical waste along with the solid waste or throwing it away in an unhygienic manner.

According to the Bio-medical Waste Management and Handling Rules, rule number 8 any hospital or nursing home generating, collecting, receiving, storing, transporting, treating, disposing or even handling bio-medical waste should approach the pollution board for authorisation.

Indiscriminate disposal of the bio-medical waste, including tubes, disposable gowns, masks, scrubs, needles, syringes, dressings and blood is a major cause of severe hospital infections.

The board constituted 22 teams headed by senior environmental engineers for carrying out surprise checks. Each team was directed to inspect at least five hospitals, including a government civil hospital, a big private hospital and three small private hospitals.

The defaulters will face strict action in accordance with the law. We will adopt a zero-tolerance policy in this regard, observed Pannu. All hospitals and health care facilities are required to segregate bio-medical waste into different containers or bags according to a prescribed colour code.

These containers are to be transported from the premises of the hospital to bio-medical waste treatment facilities in one of the five centres in Mohali, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Amritsar and Bathinda, according to bio-medical waste disposal norms. However, instead of treating or transporting the highly infectious bio-medical waste to these common facilities, the hospitals were found guilty of unethical practices of dumping it locally.

Show cause notices have been issued to all the defaulting hospitals under section 5 of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and those found guilty will face the punitive action under law.