Time for action

Thanks to foot-dragging on the part of Biratnagar Sub Metropolis officials, the administrative department of Koshi Zonal Hospital is in a fix with regard to removal of the tonnes of medical waste dumped on its premises. To compound the problem, a local organisation called BMC Shield — responsible for collecting waste materials from the hospital — has stopped doing so for the past five months. The reason forwarded is the absence of a suitable landfill site and also due to the local people’s protest over the dumping of garbage. Worse still, this organisation is reported to have even stopped collecting garbage from the local households, thus creating a precarious condition. Routinely, the hospital churns out 300 kg of waste material that includes saline bottles, plastic containers, syringes, cotton pads, and food items. In the absence of a waste management mechanism, the swelling piles of garbage are only bound to become lethal. Although only a portion of hospital waste is non-infectious, the impact of the other half is anybody’s guess because objects like used needles, syringes and viles are an enormous source of contamination. Simply compelling the hospital administration to incinerate wastes like polythene and syringes inside their premises that too, once a week, is not the long-term solution.

Giving up the lip service, the officials would do well to adopt a more pragmatic approach and come up with some concrete solutions instead. As a first step, they should find a suitable landfill site so that the scavenging bodies are not shooed away by the local residents. The need to spearhead a campaign to minimise all kinds of wastes becomes doubly important. Since most part of the kitchen waste is degradable, it could well be used to produce manure by converting it into compost. The authorities ought to work with a sense of utmost urgency, as rotting garbage is hazardous both for the local populace and the environment. The time to act is now before the onset of the summer season, which brings along additional woes.