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Threat of health hazard

There are around 763 health institutions including diagnostic centres (both Government and private) across the Jammu region. These generate 856 kilograms biomedical waste every day but only 300 kilograms of biomedical waste is being treated every day in the common biomedical waste treatment facility established in the private set-up in Samba district, thereby leaving 556 kilograms of biomedical waste untreated every day. Treatment of biomedical waste facility is available at only 350 health institutions in Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur and Reasi. For the rest of Jammu region’s health centres there is no provision for scientific treatment of biomedical waste. In this way the indication is that 556 kilograms of biomedical waste every day from 413 health institutions is becoming source of serious health hazards for the people of major parts of Jammu region.
Obviously, this huge quantity of untreated biomedical waste is the source of great health hazard for the people of the region as whole. Additionally, there is another source which is contributing to the pollution of environment and air in Jammu and that is the brick kilns functioning without proper permission from the Pollution Control Board. Many of these kilns are located close to the peripheries of the city of Jammu thus posing serious threat to the health of the people in general and those living close to the locations in particular. Though the Pollution Control Board has issued regulations for the brick kilns but because the kiln owners have approached the court of law and got a stay order issued, the Government authorities oblivious of the seriousness of the matter are making no serious effort to get the stay vacated. The result is that the kilns are functioning without hindrance and the health of the people is compromised.
This is a serious situation and entire Jammu region is in the throes of serious threat to health of the people.  We fail to understand why the Government is not alive to this situation and is not taking urgent steps to protect the environment. We are talking of kilns in close proximity of the city of Jammu. As far as the brick kilns in villages are concerned, when the Government is not able to control the brick kilns existing in close proximity of the city how it can control those in villages. It needs to be reminded that the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, which provide for regulatory frame work for management of bio-medical waste, were first published by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in the year 1998. However, last year these rules were reframed to ensure improvement in the collection, segregation, processing, treatment and disposal of biomedical waste in an environmentally sound management to reduce impact on the environment and human health. These rules apply to the State also.
At this point of our discourse on scientific treatment of biomedical  waste we are reminded of the Swachh Bharat slogan raised by Prime Minister Modi and the follow up steps that are underway to see to it that the scheme is implemented in letter and in spirit. The question is that under the Swachh Bharat scheme, some mechanism has to be thought of regarding scientific treatment of the waste failing which the situation is likely to become very grim for the normal health of human beings and plants in the entire region of Jammu. The State Level Advisory Committee constituted under the advice of the Union Ministry of Environment, has proved damp squib because it has not been able to frame rules as was expected. District Level Monitoring Committees were also constituted to oversee the implementation of rules at the district level. Constituting of Committees seems to be an exercise in futility because nothing concrete is coming out of it.
In final analysis, pollution of environment in Jammu and the hazards of inability of the authorities to scientifically treat the huge daily biomedical waste from hospitals and dispensaries in Jammu is causing serious threat to the health of the people and many of them do not even understand how the threat comes. We would approach the local NGOs and senior respectable personalities in Jammu society to bring pressure on the administration to address the issue of scientific disposal of the biomedical waste in the city of Jammu and the sub regions as well.

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