Medical waste disposed of in Biring River in BirtamodMedical waste, highly hazardous to health and generated by various hospitals in Birtamod, has been finding its way to the Biring River of late.
When Bhim Prasad Rajbanshi from Dhailadubba in Kankai Municipality-9 went to bathe in the Biring River on Monday with his friends, he saw bags full of garbage floating in the river. Upon closer inspection, he saw that all the garbage bags contained medical waste.
“The garbage bags contained syringes, gloves, used bandages, saline pipes, bottles, and soiled cotton pads, among others,” said Rajbanshi. Garbage has been disposed of even in the Kristajhar Community Forest area in Ward No 9. “We usually come to the river to bathe. Our cattle drink from the river. This river holds great significance for us because we conduct our death rituals by the river. But now, we can’t even step into the river because of the health risk the medical waste poses.”
Medical waste, highly hazardous to human and animal health, generated by various hospitals in Birtamod, has been finding its way into the Biring River of late.
The Biring river flows through Ward No 8 and 9 of Kankai Municipality.
The locals of Ward No 9 have submitted a written petition to the Ward Office to investigate the matter immediately demanding strict action against those responsible for polluting the river with medical waste. Locals including former ward president Prem Prasad Rajvanshi submitted a written application and demanded action. The Rajvanshi Social Development Committee has also protested against the dumping of medical waste in the river.
Nagendra Sangraula, deputy mayor of Birtamod Municipality, says the municipality does not collect medical waste from hospitals and that the hospitals themselves are responsible for the disposal of such waste.
“The municipality does not collect hospital waste but that does not mean dumping garbage into the river is acceptable. The police administration should take action against anyone who throws hospital waste in the river,” said Sangraula.
Binod Kumar Neupane, chief administrative officer at the municipality, said that the management of hospital waste is handled by the respective hospitals.
The garbage bags contain receipts from Birtamod Hospital, Manmohan Memorial Hospital and Kankai Hospital.
Romani Bhattarai, manager of Manmohan Memorial Hospital, informed that a contractor named Santosh Mallik collects the waste of most of the hospitals in Birtamod. “The contractor was hired three months ago to manage waste generated by our hospital. He has the contract for waste disposal of most hospitals in Birtamod. We have informed Mallik to immediately manage the medical waste thrown in the river.”
There are around a dozen hospitals in Birtamod.
Yubaraj Dangi, the executive head of Kankai Hospital, admitted that throwing medical waste into the river was a horrendous mistake. “Such mistakes have never happened in the past. We will ensure such a mistake is not repeated in future,” said Dangi. According to him, Mallik collects the medical waste of Kankai Hospital as well. “He was hired for collecting the medical waste of the hospital for Rs25,000 per month. He told us that he had one bigha of land where he would manage the waste when the agreement was made,” said Dangi.
Experts warn that throwing medical waste into the river is harmful to the people, animals and the entire ecosystem. Environmentalist Gyanendra Chaudhary termed the act of throwing medical waste into the river a crime. “Medical wastes need to be treated before their disposal in a safe place. Water polluted by medical waste stands to harm people, animals and crops,” said Chaudhary.
Meanwhile, the district administration office in Jhapa held a meeting with the operators of the hospitals on Wednesday and warned them to not repeat the mistake of throwing medical wastes into the rivers and streams. They have been instructed to manage the medical wastes as per the health care waste management guidelines.