Mumbai: Foul smell is nothing new for the residents of Deonar, home to Mumbai oldest and largest dumping ground. But the stench on Wednesday wasn't of garbage but that of human blood.
Around 1.30 am, Deonar police found a room full of hazardous bio-medical hospital waste dumped in a house in the area.
A tempo, loaded with biomedical waste from hospitals, that was parked at Atlanta Ground in Deonar made residents uneasy when it did not budge for four hours.
"There was the smell of rotten human blood and flesh coming from the truck parked in the ground. Children playing in the ground brought it to the notice of their parents, who informed the police about it," said ACP Keshav Shinde of Deonar police station.
The hazardous hospital waste, stuffed in plastic sheets and gunny bags, was then emptied in a room nearby, locals said.
The waste contained surgical gloves, used syringes and needles, cotton swabs and other medical paraphernalia - all of it used and smeared with blood.
The residents spotted children playing with the bloodstained gloves, mistaking them for balloons, until their parents snatched them away.
Seeing that the road leading up to the house was strewn with such waste, they alerted the police.
When the police opened the tempo at 8 pm, they found used surgical equipment. The tempo belongs to the agency responsible for disposing waste from all BMC hospitals, police officials say, but wasn't sporting the company's label.
"The hospital waste, stained with blood, was giving off the stench," said an official from the Deonar police station.
"Hospital waste is dangerous and should have ideally been disposed of properly. We are inquiring into how the truck came to be parked in a public place for so long. Also, it did not have the company's name on it," said ACP Shinde.
According to the residents, the room in which the bloody pile was found belongs to Bablu Kamble, a BMC worker in the maintenance department in Deonar ward. He bought the house seven years ago and lived there briefly.
Three years ago, he shifted to a bigger house in the same neighbourhood. The residents are planning to approach the police station and register a complaint against Kamble.
Residents discovered sacks full of used gloves, bio-waste and blood-stained garbs that were transported in the tempo and dumped in the house at Deonar.
Police suspect a racket of reselling the used hospital equipment. "We suspect if someone was cleaning up the waste and re-packing equipment like syringes to sell it again illegally. We are questioning the owner of the tempo and have called upon BMC officials to investigate the matter," said ACP Shinde.
"Biomedical waste kept in a residential area has dangerous ramifications for the neighbourhood," said Sandeep Chavan, area in-charge of a local party.
"It points to a possible racket. It's conceivable that the waste is being recycled and re-sold in the market without following the norms, which is a serious offence," Chavan added.
Dr Sanjeevani Palkar, functionary with the Solid Waste Management department of the BMC, informed MiD DAY that the company responsible for the hospital waste disposal has its label on the truck.
She also said that despite instructions to the waste disposal company, the waste wasn't immediately destroyed.
Explaining how waste packaging works, Dr Palkar said, "BMC packs the waste in blue, black and red packets to distinguish between the levels of danger, with red signifying the most toxic and dangerous waste. Clear instructions are given to the waste disposal company to destroy it soon."
"The red bags are supposed to be taken directly to the incinerator and destroyed or buried in the factory grounds meant for the purpose. Otherwise, there are chances of diseases spreading. The BMC will inquire if the company is following orders," Palkar added.
The infectious bio-medical waste, or, in common parlance, the red and yellow bags, consists of all waste that is capable of transmitting infection and is patient-related.
This includes blood-stained cotton, dressings, urine catheters, human anatomical parts including amputated limbs, IV sets and sharps like needles, syringes, etc. It is considered hazardous as it can pass on infections and diseases.
To help healthcare institutions solve this problem, the MCGM has installed a central treatment facility comprising an autoclave, a dual-chamber incinerator with a scrubber and a shredder, along with transportation facility, which will accept segregated waste as per Schedule 1 of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Rules.
There are also a few other private players now entering this market.