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Medical waste pollution gets a Rs 50,000 price tag in Nainital

Naini Lake, where the dumping of medical waste prompted officials to impose fines for those who improperly dispose of medical waste.

To address the issue of medical waste pollution, a fine of Rs 50,000 will be imposed in Nainital.

The announcement came from Nainital district magistrate Savin Bansal following the dumping of medical waste near Naini lake earlier this month, for which a medical shop was forced closed by the district administration whilst two others were served notices. The dump included biomedical waste and discarded items such as sanitary napkins, syringes, and expired medicines, which were found in drainage systems adjacent to the lake on October 2nd. 

“We visited the spot where the medical waste was found and saw that the medicines were meant for the government hospital,” said sub-divisional magistrate Vinod Kumar at the time. “However, an inquiry at the district hospital revealed that that the waste wasn’t thrown from the hospital.” Subsequent, the district administration is trying to deter future violators with the announcement of the fine. 

“The medical institutions found to be violating the norms or showing negligence in managing the bio-medical waste will be acted against as per the rules and guidelines of the high court, NGT and Bio-Medical Waste Management Act, 2016,” explained Bansal. He also announced the convention of committees at the block level to inspect disposal sites, including administrative, law enforcement, health department and pollution control officials. They, said Bansal, “will make sure that the waste is being disposed in a proper and scientific manner and will penalise the offenders.” 

Medical waste pollution is an often overlooked issue in India. The country generates 550.9 tonnes of medical waste every day, a volume expected to increase to 775.5 tonnes by 2020. Despite the importance of proper medical waste management, many facilities continue to dispose of it in hazardous ways. 

Nainital is far from the only area to crack down on medical waste pollution. Delhi earlier this year announced it would crack down on biomedical waste, by ordering the closure of 32 facilities. A similar step was taken previously in Goa. Nationwide, vigilance is needed by officials to crack down on medical waste being dumped. That such steps are being taken in quarters of the country is welcome news; all should follow suit. 

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