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Delhi zoo’s bio-medical waste in dumps may trigger health crisis

Bio-medical waste from the National Zoological Park in Delhi are reaching municipal landfills of the city, along with other garbage, posing a health hazard for lakhs of Delhiites.

delhi Updated: Jun 21, 2018 08:33 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi zoo,bio-medical waste,health crisis
Delhi zoo witnessed an avian flu outbreak in 2016.(HT/File Photo)

Bio-medical waste from the National Zoological Park in Delhi are reaching municipal landfills of the city, along with other garbage, posing a health hazard for lakhs of Delhiites.

Delhi zoo director Renu Singh said that all kinds of waste generated in the zoological park is collected and handed over to a contractor who takes it away.

“If an animal is detected to have any contagious disease, then the biomedical waste is not dumped along with other waste. It is destroyed in an incinerator, located behind the zoo hospital. But, normally, most of the medical waste such as bandages, cotton, saline pipes, among others, are dumped along with the general waste,” said Abjijit Bhawal, veterinarian of the zoo.

This effectively means that till the time an animal is not positively identified as suffering from a contagious disease, all the medical waste generated while treating it is dumped along with other discards and reaches the municipal sites.

Experts said this waste is a potential source of zoonotic diseases such as Nipah, Anthrax, SARS and avian influenza, among others, which can jump from animals to humans. It may be recalled that several birds had died of avian flu in 2016 winter.

“We never know what pathogens this medical waste from animal hospitals and clinic is carrying. Chances are always there that this could be a potential source of diseases. This waste also contaminates the soil, water and air. There should be a proper way to dispose of this waste,” said RK Singh, director of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute.

Dumping of bio-medical waste at municipal landfills also violates the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016, which requires all hospitals to get an authorisation from the local pollution control body. In the case of Delhi, it is the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. But hardly any veterinary hospital or animal clinic in Delhi have procured authorisation from the DPCC.

The rule also says that medical waste should be segregated at source in separate coloured bags. While items like syringes, cottons soaked in blood, bandages are to be kept in one bags, other items like animal tissues has to be packed in separate containers. Plastics, which can be recycled, are to be packed separately. All these items should be then sent to a common biomedical treatment facilities. There are two such facilities in Delhi.

“We are sending notices to all hospitals, including veterinary clinics and doctors. The zoo has not taken any authorisation certificate. A notice would be also sent to the zoo very soon to get an authorization from the DPCC,” said a senior official of the DPCC.

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 08:33 IST