After shops and markets, the Delhi government is now planning to check the use of plastic bags in hospitals and nursing homes. Sources said the Directorate of Health Services is about to send a directive to medical superintendents of all hospitals in this regard.
Only biodegradable plastic bags are allowed at hospitals or any medical care facility with 100 or more beds. The move comes after complaints that the plastic bag ban was being rampantly violated at these places.
“A hospital is a public space which, like a market, has ample use of plastic bags to carry medicine, food articles, and a host of items. The hospital authorities have to discourage this practice,” said a senior Health Department official who did not wish to be named.
“We have received complaints that most nursing homes and hospitals are not doing so,” the official said.
As per a January notification, plastic bags of all kinds are banned in Delhi, except for biodegradable plastic bags that are allowed in hospitals.
Sources said the multiplicity of authorities was the reason why the use of banned plastic bags was increasing in hospitals.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the Environment Department’s arm to coordinate the enforcement of the ban, has not conducted any raid in hospitals because they are in the Health Department’s domain.
While around 22 challans have been issued for violating the plastic bag ban so far, none of them are from any hospital or healthcare facility. Vinod Jain, on whose public interest litigation the High Court banned plastic bags, said enforcement was weak at healthcare units.
“I have written to the government to intensify the checks because hospitals are major areas where the ban can be violated on a large scale,” he said.
The directive to be issued by the Health Department asks the hospital/nursing home authorities to prominently display messages at their premises to discourage the use of plastic bags, and periodically conduct enforcement drives.