Syringes, vaccine vials and drip sets being washed down the drain and on to the road during heavy rains is a common sight for the residents of Thampuranmukku behind the General Hospital in the city.
Tired of repeated complaints to the authorities and of getting temporary, namesake solutions for their troubles, they have all but given up.
“What is the point of complaining to the authorities?” asked Santhosh Kumar, a shopkeeper in the area. “We have been complaining for years. You should see the place after a good rain, it is pathetic. Needles, little medicine bottles and other wastes get washed out onto the road by the bucket-load. We have to pay the Corporation people to clean it up every time.”
The residents attribute this to the open drainage and the dumping of biomedical waste in the hospital’s backyard, where a large pit has been dug out as a waste dump.
“Every day, I can find some waste - stale pieces of bread or broken pieces of glass - on my terrace which birds pick up from the waste pit,” said J John Gomez, whose house is right next to the empty yard behind the hospital.
“The stench and the mosquitoes only add to our problem. Whatever action has been taken by the authorities in response to our previous complaints have been just to mollify us for the time being.”
During heavy rains, the waste gets washed out on to the road because of an open drainage canal within the hospital’s compound, he added.
This is happening even though the hospital has subscribed to the Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) waste disposal initiative, IMAGE (IMA Goes Ecofriendly), which collects biomedical waste from all the affiliated institutions every day for treatment.
“We are collecting the waste every day from the hospital,” said an administrative official of IMAGE. “It is the hospital’s responsibility to segregate the waste and have it ready for us to pick-up.”
When contacted, hospital Superintendent Dr Faseelath Beevi said that she had not received any complaints from the residents.
“We do have a tie-up with the IMA to collect our biomedical waste and we are also trying for clearance to set up a biogas plant,” she said. “This is the first time I have heard of the residents’ complaint and I will look into it,” she added.