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Telegraph India
29 April 2010

The Alipore premises of Calcutta Medical Research Institute. A Telegraph pictureThe Alipore premises of Calcutta Medical Research Institute. A Telegraph picture
The state pollution control board has slapped a closure notice on Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI) for failing to dispose of infectious biomedical waste properly.

The notice, issued on April 23, will be implemented “a month” later. Patients admitted to the 350–bed Alipore hospital would have to be shifted to other healthcare units during this period.

The CMRI authorities have also been directed “to stop further admission of patients with immediate effect” and pay a pollution cost of Rs 1 lakh within 10 days. The notice exempts the mortuary from closure.

The hospital has the option of improving its system of disposing biomedical waste and appealing against the order within a month to prevent closure.

If it fails to do so, the officer–in–charge of Alipore police station would close down the hospital after a month and file a compliance report with the board, as mentioned in the notice, which bears the signature of the board member–secretary, Sandipan Mukherjee.

Such notices had been slapped on state government hospitals and nursing homes earlier, said chief law officer of the board, Biswajit Mukherjee. State–run Uluberia Sub–divisional Hospital and some nursing homes had been shut down for various periods after they failed to take remedial measures in time.

The chief operating officer of CMRI, Rupak Barua, said only critical patients would be admitted in the emergency ward and the hospital’s 100 housekeeping workers were being rigorously trained.

“We have already taken the necessary steps and will be writing to the pollution control board within seven days,” added Barua.

“Since 2008, we have repeatedly warned CMRI for gross violation in biomedical waste norms. During routine monitoring in February (2010), our officials found steps had not been taken,” said board chairman P.N. Roy.

Under central government guidelines, biomedical waste has to be segregated and packed into yellow and blue bags while black bags are for other waste. The yellow bags are meant for amputated body parts, dressing materials, cotton, sanitary pads and plaster of Paris. Plastic items like saline bottles and “mutilated” needles and syringes must be put in blue bags.

According to board officials, biomedical waste was being dumped along with other waste at the CMRI. Syringes and needles were also being thrown away without being mutilated. Infected syringes could find their way back into the market and spread HIV and diseases like hepatitis.

The board also wrote to state–run Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, Howrah State General Hospital and Uluberia Sub–divisional Hospital regarding “gross violation in biomedical waste management”.

“These hospitals have accused the health department of not providing enough resources while defending their violations. We will take action against the hospitals after receiving feedback from the health department,” said Shyamal Adhikary, a senior environment engineer of the board.

Aniruddha Kar, the director of health services, said he had not received any letter from the PCB on Wednesday. He blamed the medical superintendents of the hospitals concerned for the slip–ups.

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