Tuesday October 23, 2018
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Bio-waste dumped near Rohingya refugee camp, children affected

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New Delhi: Children of Rohingya Muslims, one of the world’s most persecuted communities who have been living on the outskirts of Delhi for some three years, are falling prey to diseases, including lung infections and severe skin allergies, due to bio-medical waste being dumped by two prominent hospitals in front of their camp, enquiries by IANS have revealed. Typically, no one wants to take the responsibility for this.

Dwellers at the Madanpur Khadar camp in south Delhi claimed that discarded bandages, syringes and other bio-waste is dumped by Safdarjung Hospital and Indraprastha Apollo hospital near their camp. However, the two hospitals have stated that they cannot be held responsible as it was not their responsibility, but that of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), to monitor where the hospital waste is dumped.

Karan Thakur, a spokesperson for Indraprastha Apollo, told IANS: “We follow the law and get the bio-medical waste dumped through the vendors. But I cannot say where is it being dumped. In case it is not being dumped properly, then it is the mistake of the DPCC and not ours.”

Safdarjung Hospital medical superintendent Rajpal told IANS that the hospital did not have any role in the dumping of bio-medical waste generated as the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) and the DPCC looked after the entire operation.

A senior DPCC official, who did not wish to be named, told IANS: “We hire agencies for collecting the bio-medical waste from hospitals and dumping it properly, but Safdarjung and a few other hospitals have hired their own agencies to take care of the bio-medical waste generated from there. In such situations, the medical superintendent and the heads of such hospitals are responsible and not the DPCC.”

There were high chances of norms being violated as such cases have been reported in the past as well, but things were brought under control after official action, he added.

Sunil Bhatnagar, additional secretary, Directorate of Health Services (DHS), agreed.

“Although violation by big hospitals like Safdarjung and even AIIMS is not unusual, mostly the norms are violated by small hospitals and nursing homes that do not even have proper tie-ups with the vendors for dumping the waste,” Bhatnagar told IANS.

He said that the number of such hospitals was so large that it was difficult for DPCC or the DHS to monitor the process on their own.

The toxic waste being dumped has claimed the life of three infants till now, the Madanpur Khadar dwellers say.

Often the children end up playing with discarded saline tubes, blood packs and used syringes trying to make up for the absence of toys.

“For the past four months vans carrying the bio-medical waste from hospitals have started dumping it right in front of our shacks. Although adults understand what it is, it’s very difficult to make the children understand, who go and play with it. This is the cause behind the occurrence of several forms of diseases in them,” Mohammad Salim, the 28-year-old head of the refugee camp, told IANS.

Stating that three infants had died after contracting a skin disease caused by the bio-medical waste, Salim added that the community tried to build a boundary wall demarcating their shacks from the dumping site but it was broken by the people coming to dump the waste who also issued strict warnings against doing so.

When this IANS correspondent visited the site, most of children in the camp were found with several forms of skin infections, chemical burns and even blisters on their faces and bodies. Their parents claimed the skin diseases were caused by contact with bio-medical waste.

Rasna Begum, the mother of a two-year-old who died in May, said that since the waste was not properly disposed of in bags, syringes, blood soaked plasters, bandages with human tissue were scattered in the entire area.

“I did not understand what my little son died of. Before I could stop him from playing with the syringes, used hand gloves and all, he had already contracted a serious skin infection. Before he died his entire body became red and full of blisters,” Rasna Begum told IANS.

Recently nine hospitals, including the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung Hospital, were issued notice by the National Green Tribunal for violation of rules laid down for safe disposal of highly infectious bio medical waste.

This correspondent spotted some vans that had dumped bio-medical waste in the area. Asked about the hospitals the waste was from, the drivers said it was from Safdarjung Hospital and Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

Informed about the incident by IANS, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Sripad Yesso Naik said: “I do not exactly know if hospitals are committing such a blunder. It’s simply intolerable. I will immediately send officials from the health ministry to check if this is happening. Strict action will be taken against the medical superintendents and senior officials for such norm violation.”

The 315 Rohingya Muslims – who have been staying in dilapidated huts made out of thatch, tarpaulin and plastic sheets – are among an estimated 10 million stateless people worldwide.

India, despite hosting some 30,000 registered refugees, has no legal recognition of asylum seekers, making it difficult for them to use essential services.

Although the minorities have lived for generations in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, they had to flee the country after hostilities broke out between the Buddhists and the Rohingyas in 2012 leading to the death of more than 100 people. Over 100,000 Rohingyas have since then fled to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh.

(IANS)

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Dusshera In Delhi Casts A Dark Blanket, Air Quality Worsens

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) labelled NCR's air quality as toxic

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Delhi's air quality drastically dipped during Diwali. Wikimedia Commons
Delhi's air quality drastically dipped during Diwali. Wikimedia Commons

The National Capital and the regions around it continue to suffer a “very-poor” air quality on Friday, which according to experts, may worsen due to combined effects of Dussehra and meteorological reasons such as low winds in Delhi.

Between 6pm to 8pm, over 48 areas across the National Capital Region — 36 from Delhi alone — suffered ‘very poor air-quality’ with pollutants registering over four times the national safety standards.

Weather analysts say this may worsen as Delhi currently has very light variable winds with no definite directions, which is likely to help in aggregating the pollutants.

Air Quality
In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted. wikimedia commons

“Delhi has a negligible wind speed and morning temperatures are low. Also, many effigies were burnt across the region on Dussehera. This will push up the pollution levels,” said Mahesh Palawat, director private weather forecasting group, Skymet.

The air-quality was already ‘severe’ at Anand Vihar in east Delhi and Rohini in north Delhi, Bawana in northwest Delhi, Mundaka in West Delhi and Bhiwadi in Rajasthan, acoording to the real-time monitoring taken up around 8pm by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The average presence of major pollutant PM2.5 or particle with diametre less than 2.5mm, was 129 unit across Delhi-NCR and 133 units in Delhi, which is more than twice the national safe limits. Rohini was the most polluted with PM2.5 concentration at 166 units, about three times the safe limits.

Air Quality
Air pollution can also damage your kidneys. wikimedia commons

The permissible range or PM2.5 is 60 as per national standards and 25 by the international standards.

At 4pm, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 276 marked ‘poor’ against ‘moderate’ mere 48 hours back.

Also Read: The Farmer;s Protest In Delhi Makes The Indian Police Take Severe Steps

Meanwhile, System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) labelled NCR’s air quality as toxic and recommended keeping relief medicine handy. SAFAR advised everyone to avoid tiring outdoor physical activity. (IANS)