Tuesday May 22, 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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Rohingya influx is a threat to common security of the entire region

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

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The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Rohingya Refugees, wikimedia commons

The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.

“Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region,” Shringla told IANS during an interview.

“Bangladesh has engaged itself to address the issue. They have taken up the issue with the UN. The Bangladesh government is also working through multilateral agencies besides bilateral negotiations with Myanmar.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to repatriate the Rohingya Muslims. This is a humanitarian crisis even though the issue posed a common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for all the countries of the region.”

Over 1.15 million registered Rohingya have been residing in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, known as the Cox’s Bazar region, after they fled Rakhine to escape a military crackdown on their villages last August.

To a question about extremist activities in Bangladesh, the visiting Indian envoy said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pursued a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism.

“After the terror attack in Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in July 2016, law and order agencies have been active against terror activities. No major incident has taken place since. The issue cannot be resolved overnight. This is a continuous process,” Shringla said.

"Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region," Shringla told IANS during an interview.
Bangladesh Map, Pixabay

The High Commissioner came here on Thursday and held a series of meetings with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Governor Tathagata Roy and other senior officials.

The visiting diplomat during his meeting with Deb discussed various issues like connectivity, people to people contact, hassle free movement of Indians to Bangladesh, trade and economic activities.

The Indian envoy said that Bangladesh has been promoting peace and security not only within its territory but ensuring regional and international peace and security.

Also Read: Sundarbans’ activists are against the upcoming NTPC power plant in the area 

About China’s rising cooperation with Bangladesh and investment in Dhaka, the diplomat said that India’s relations with Bangladesh were enduring and sustainable.

“India’s relationship and partnership with Bangladesh was based on cooperation, mutuality of benefit and respect for each other. People to people contact is very important,” Shringla said.

The High Commissioner said that 111 agreements have been signed between India and Bangladesh in the last ten years in different sectors. India has given $8 billion in three Lines of Credit to Bangladesh.

According to the envoy, total trade between the two countries in 2016-17 was $7.5 billion while $3.3 billion worth Indian investment proposals are registered with the Bangladesh government.

He said that India is currently supplying 660 MW of power to Bangladesh from West Bengal and Tripura.

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

For this, an optical fiber cable link has been established between Akhaura (along Agartala) and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

Regarding the 2019 Bangladesh parliamentary elections next year, the Indian envoy said it was the country’s internal matter.

The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Representational Image, Pixabay

“Bangladesh has a vibrant democracy like ours. The country is holding periodic elections. We look forward to a very free and fair process of election in Bangladesh.”

He said that India-Bangladesh relations were based on common history, language, culture besides a common border of over 4000 km.

“Today we are enjoying the best ever relations. During the past 10 years, relations have improved enormously. Cooperation, friendship and partnership are beneficial for both the countries.

“The countries have invested significantly to develop infrastructure along the borders to promote trade among the two neighbors. The border infrastructure is being further developed to enhance trade and economic activities between the two nations.

“Currently 36 land customs stations (LCS) are operational along the India-Bangladesh border. Further upgradations were being done along the Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura besides West Bengal borders,” he added.

Shringla said that to further improve the ongoing bus services between Dhaka, Kolkata, Agartala, Shillong and Guwahati, more steps would be taken to make the bus services more effective as it is inexpensive for people of both the countries.

Five Indian states – West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) share the 4,096-km border with Bangladesh. (IANS)