Nagaland sits on toxic dumps of biomedical waste

Nagaland sits on toxic dumps of biomedical waste

Dimapur, August 27: Garbage dumps, pollution, encroachments and illegal constructions are eating into the innards of our urban space, but are we really unaware of its extent?
These issues and ways to deal with them were discussed on the second day of the 2-day Panel Discussions on Environmental Laws and Issues Related to Urban Areas in Mountain States: Focus on Dimapur, held on July 10 & 11, 2018, at the Don Bosco Institute for Development and Leadership, which were organized by Nagaland Page. Everyone agreed that awareness was the first step. How many people of this generation, for instance, know that Dimapur had a park?
“In the early 1980s there was a park – Haji Park – which was donated (by Muslims) to the Town Committee,” said Ahidur Rehman of the Muslim Council, Dimapur. “We are hurt that the Park has been converted into a shopping complex,” he said, visibly hurt by conversion of a gifted park into a concrete structure.
The discussion on “Participation of citizens in awareness drives on environment” took up some such issues, many are shy of discussing. There are other pressing ones, which need action.
Vimenuo Angami, General Secretary of the Naga Women Hoho, is working towards removing plastic from Dimapur and introducing an alternative. “We are coming up with paper bags to replace plastic, we will also beautify area (in Dimapur) from Plaza to City Tower,” said Angami.
The Women Hoho will also train 200 women in making paper bags, creating some employment opportunities in the bargain.
“We need to educate people on the segregation of garbage,” said Angami speaking on the garbage dumps of Dimapur.
Communities are indeed doing their little bit, but not enough and as Kishore Das of the Act of Kindness (AoK) a Dimapur-based NGO pointed out, what is needed is attitudinal change. Das wants people to be disciplined through fines and penalties.
Aokonang Ozukum of LIFE, another Dimapur-based NGO, felt otherwise, saying we need to educate kids and set examples. “We are collecting plastic bottles and waste from offices,” said Ozukum.
While plastic bottles collection is easier, the more dangerous and toxic waste from hospitals is not easy to dispose. What is being done with hospital waste, the panel discussion decided to take up next.
A few years ago, the Nagaland Government spent crores of rupees to purchase 4 incinerators for hospitals in Kohima, Dimapur, Phek and Mokokchung.
“None of the incinerators are working,” a Pollution Control Board source told Nagaland Page. Neither do the hospitals have regular power supply to get high temperatures of 1200 degrees Celsius ~ nor do they have specialized staff.
As a result, biomedical waste is a hazard Nagaland’s towns are facing, unaware and helpless. Nowhere is the problem more pronounced than in commercial hub, Dimapur with the highest population and several private hospitals also dumping biomedical waste along with normal waste.
The topic was discussed threadbare during the aforesaid panel discussions at Dimapur last month, organised by Nagaland Page to complement the efforts and endeavours of A Better Dimapur, under the aegis of the Dimapur Municipal Council.
“It is mandatory for hospitals to have effluent treatment plants for liquid waste and incinerators for solid waste disposal,” said Dr Moatoshi, Head of Department of Pathology at the Eden Medical Centre, Dimapur. Dr Moatoshi said that in the absence of incinerators, the Dimapur Municipal Council is mixing biomedical and commercial waste.
Hospital managers feel that they alone cannot do it and would require cooperation from municipal bodies like DMC. “Biomedical waste can cause diseases if not treated,” confessed Dr Moatoshi.
Awareness of this and other forms of pollution have been taken up at a primary level by schools and NGOs. Students like Vishal Kumar Sharma, a Class XII student of Don Bosco School, Dimapur, rely on collaborating with the National Service Scheme (NSS) to do their bit.
School administrators like Ahoto Yepthomi of Livingstone School felt that schools are doing their bit to spread awareness about programmes like the Swachh Bharat campaign. “Very little is done in terms of funding though,” he rued.
A growing menace of vehicular pollution is attributed to indiscipline and lack of regulation. Additional Commissioner of Police Kilem, Dimapur, said the town does not have mobile units to enable issuance of Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates. He said the new Motor Vehicles Act will enable fines to be doubled for traffic violations.
So what is Dimapur doing to spread awareness, and instill a sense of responsibility? Another set of panelists sat down to discuss pressing civic concerns for Dimapur that day.
(Page News Service)