PCB issues show-cause notices for levying Environ Compensation
Huge untreated effluent directly going into River Tawi
JAMMU, Aug 12: In brazen violation of laws enacted by the Parliament and directions of the National Green Tribunal, the Principal of Government Medical College and Medical Superintendents of four main hospitals of Jammu are showing no seriousness in ensuring scientific disposal of huge quantity of bio-medical waste and sewage being generated every day.
Due to this, entire untreated effluent is directly going into River Tawi through public sewer and polluting the water body thereby creating wide-spread resentment among the people.
Taking serious note of the grave situation and the constant non-seriousness on their part, the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board has finally issued show cause notices to Principal of the Government Medical College Jammu and Medical Superintendents of SMGS Hospital, Chest Disease Hospital, Super Specialty Hospital and Psychiatric Diseases Hospital for levying of Environmental Compensation and initiation of prosecution proceedings against them.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that neither the Government Medical College Jammu nor its Associated Hospitals have obtained consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 although the same is imperative.
Similarly, authorization under Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016 has not been obtained from the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board by any of these hospitals and bio-medical waste is not being properly handled, segregated, stored or disposed off in accordance with these rules.
Moreover, no bar coding for its disposal has so far been adopted, which is a blatant violation of the Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016 and directions of the National Green Tribunal. Even the employees dealing with bio-medical waste are ill-informed and ignorant about various aspects of bio-medical waste management, sources said quoting the observations of the Pollution Control Board.
Keeping all these aspects in mind, the J&K Pollution Control Board had in the month of January this year issued show-cause notice to the Principal of Government Medical College and laid stress on ensuring strict compliance to the provisions of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016.
Though the Principal Government Medical College Jammu filed response to the show-cause notice yet the same was found evasive of the compulsory compliance as the Principal had simply passed instructions to the concerned Medical Superintendents and others for compliance of norms, which, as per the Pollution Control Board was not enough to negate the commission of offence and was rather a tacit admission of commission of offence which attracts the provisions related to prosecution and levying of Environmental Compensation under Polluter Pays Principle as approved by the National Green Tribunal.
During thorough verification of the claims made by the Principal, it came to the fore that Sewerage Treatment Plant in the GMC and Hospital continues to be intermittently non-functional and effluent from STP is disposed off through open drain without any scientific treatment, which is a serious violation of environmental norms.
In the light of these facts, the Pollution Control Board has found the response of the Principal as untenable and now the Principal has been explicitly told by the PCB that in case of further non-compliance of environmental laws within the specified period proceedings for recovery of Environmental Compensation will be initiated.
The Pollution Control Board has also issued show-cause notices to Dr Manoj Chalotra, Medical Superintendent SMGS Hospital, Dr Rajeshwar Sharma, Medical Superintendent Chest Disease Hospital, Arun Sharma, Medical Superintendent Super Specialty Hospital and Dr Kirti Bhushan, Medical Superintendent Psychiatric Diseases Hospital as even after being advised by the Principal of Government Medical College in the month of January this year they have not initiated any step to ensure compliance of the laws.
Through the show cause notices they have been asked to explain within 15 days as to why Environmental Compensation in terms of directions of the NGT be not recovered from them and they may not be prosecuted under Environment (Protection) Act 1956 for blatant violation of the provisions of different environmental laws.
“If the response is not filed within 15 days the recovery of Environmental Compensation shall become imperative along with initiation of prosecution proceedings in the court of law”, the PCB has made it clear in separate show-cause notices.
As far as SMGS Hospital, the oldest health institution is concerned, the Medical Superintendent has failed to install and operate a STP till date for the treatment of raw sewage generated from the hospital and the same is being discharged into public sewer without any treatment. Moreover, Dr Chalotra has maintained blind eye towards dumping of colour-coded bio-medical waste bags with other garbage in the municipal waste dumping site resulting in infectious contamination of municipal solid waste thus causing grave threat to the public and patients.
Similarly, the Medical Superintendent of Chest Disease Hospital Dr Rajeshwar Sharma has not initiated any step to get STP installed despite being aware of the fact that unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste is causing irreversible damage to the ground/surface water and ecosystem of the area.
The PCB has also found Medical Superintendents of Super Specialty Hospital and Psychiatric Diseases Hospital as mute spectator to blatant violation of environmental laws instead of initiating steps for strict implementation of Acts and guidelines.
“If this is the attitude of those at the helm of affairs in main hospitals of Jammu what could be the level of non-implementation of environmental laws by health institutions in other parts of the Union Territory can be easily gauged”, sources said.
A number of people living in the vicinity of these hospitals have conveyed to the EXCELSIOR that inept handling of bio-medical and other waste is creating nuisance for them. Even a team of EXCELSIOR paid visit to these hospitals and found the situation as worrisome.
“The prevailing situation demands the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Secretary to intervene personally and take stern action against all those who are not showing seriousness in ensuring compliance of the environmental laws”, people stressed.