Mumbai: Concerned by the huge amount of medical waste being dumped in water bodies and mangroves, a group of youths involved in mangrove clean-up has urged the Indian Medical Association and the state government to penalise those disposing such waste irresponsibly. The group of mangrove soldiers has cleaned up and collected 30 tonnes of non-degradable waste, most of which is medical waste accumulated in mangroves and creeks in 41 weeks.
The mangrove soldiers have said that in their clean-up drives in the mangroves of Navi Mumbai they regularly find medical waste such as syringes, masks, blood collection bags, syrup bottles, tablet packets and even PPE kits being dumped irresponsibly near the water bodies. “This medical waste, dumped in water bodies in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and adjoining areas flow towards and get stuck in mangroves. It makes us wonder whether there no checks on people tossing such stuff in water bodies. We suspect smaller medical facilities or medical shops have been disposing of their waste in this manner. Apart from investigating who is doing this, there is an urgent need to frame guidelines on disposal of medical waste and stringent penalty for violators,” said Dharmesh Barai, founder of the group Environment life, which started its ‘Mangrove clean-up campaign’ from August 15, 2020.
He added, “We should keep a check on the disposal of waste coming from Covid centres around the city, as well as from hospitals and pharmacists. Many bottles of medicines we found were packed; it seems someone discarded them as they were past their expiry dates. Syringes, PPE kits and masks were all found during our clean-up.”
The group has urged the municipal corporations of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai etc to look into the matter on a priority basis and catch the violators. Barai added, “It seems that there are charges for the disposal for medical waste, hence, to save money many people are resorting to such methods. The municipal corporations must take this into consideration. Penalty is the best way to make this menace stop, or this will damage the mangroves.”
“Usually, it has been observed that due to littering, plastic and other non-degradable items get accumulated in the nullahs and enter the creek. This also results in nullah water overflowing on the roads, during heavy rains. We found that despite making repeated appeals to the public through various means, they continue to litter in these nullahs, thereby clogging these drains, which leads to flooding on the streets. While we clean up most of it during our pre-monsoon drive, however much of also enters the creek and possibly gets stuck in mangroves,” said a BMC official.
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