THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Women who do not incinerate their sanitary pads and diabetics who unscientifically discard syringes are posing a bigger threat to the city's water bodies and marine life than hospitals which produce massive bio medical wastes. The fishermen and marine experts say that the underwater reefs that line the city's coast have been covered by sanitary pads and sachets of washing powders and food items. Too frequently, syringes end up in the nets as fishermen frisk them.
As per Bio-medical Waste (management and handling) Act 1998, waste sharps, including syringe and blades, have to be disinfected and autoclaved or microwaved. Sanitary pads have to be incinerated. However, none of this happens in most households. As per Pollution Control Board's environment engineers, these days, most waste are collected from hospitals and taken to IMA-run IMAGE facility in Palakkad. However, the biomedical wastes are increasingly being contributed by households.
"During June-July months when sand bars are open the wastes get deposited in nets laid for specific creatures like lobsters. Sanitary napkins submerge when wet and form a big chunk of wastes that affect habitat of animals like turtles which live here," said Robert Panipilla, chief coordinator of Friends of Marine life. The city's most reputed private hospitals are located next to arterial water bodies like Amayizhanjan, Parvati Puthanar and Killiyar that are connected to sea.
Pollution Control Board engineers had been rapped in the past for being mute spectators. However, with more available options, hospitals are able to dispose of biomedical waste within 48 hours as per norms, say environment engineers. "We have asked the government to allot space near Vithura or Palode for starting a treatment plant for a IMAGE biomedical waste management facility. Presently, hospitals pay tariff based on the number of beds to dispose of waste. This is sorted out and taken to Palakkad and all hospitals are part of this," said Dr C.R. Anandarajan, who is the district representative of IMAGE.