“Some antibiotics, which can be used for the treatment of serious health complications were also found floating in river water”
Even when the attempts have been made to make River Tawi free from garbage and other construction debris, ‘unused and expired’ pharmaceutical drugs with the stamp of the Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supply Corporation Limited (JKMSCL) are being dumped into River Tawi, thus putting wildlife and human lives in peril, however the concerned agencies appear ‘clueless’.
The dumping on the river bed in violation of National Green Tribunal (NGT) order continues unabated with the Pollution Control Board (PCB) preferring to turn a blind eye to it.
“Despite repeatedly reprimanded by the Green Tribunal of India and Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board (JKPCB) for proper disposal of unused or expired pharmaceutical drugs along with bio-medical waste, concerned department continues to violate the rules and regulations for last many years,” said sources, adding that recently Rs 18 lakh fine was imposed on Shri Maharaja Gulab Singh (SMGS) Hospital Jammu for violating the environment rules.
The matter of dumping of unused and expired medicines surfaced when a group of volunteers during a cleanness drive in river Tawi, found packets of unused, as well as, expired pharmaceutical drugs having the stamp of the Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supply Corporation.
Talking to The Typewriter, one of the volunteers wishing anonymity said that they were shocked to find a heap of pharmaceutical drugs disposed of on the river bed.
“Undoubtedly, this is negligence on the part of concerned authorities, including Health Department and Pollution Control Board, who could not keep an eye on the drugs supplied from the Medical Corporation,” said volunteers, adding that these drugs are not only hazardous for the water bodies, but are also case of concern for the human beings.
They maintained that the discarded drugs could enter into anyone’s body through the intake of food, which can give rise to the emergence and the spread of dangerous infections.
However, they claimed that they have seen hundreds of strips of different drugs floating in the river Tawi. “Some antibiotics, which can be used for the treatment of serious health complications were also found floating in river water.”
Meanwhile, local residents of Gujjar Nagar claimed that there is an Urban Health Centre in the area, which got the supply from JKMSCL, because the same drug cannot be sold in the open market.
“There is a possibility that the health workers have thrown drugs into the river Tawi,” they alleged and questioned the concerned body to take suitable action against those who are dumping this material in the river, thus putting their life at great risk.
Health experts told The Typewriter that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
“The world is seeing an alarming rise in antibiotic resistance as the same is used to treat infections caused by bacteria is becoming less effective,” said experts, adding “Without realising that the medicines, expired or not, when thrown in the garbage or into the river can get into drinking water, harming humans and the environment.”
Experts stated that the concerned health officials know that expired medicines are harmful but still they are taking it nonchalantly by not disposing it off properly.
Similar, incident happened in the Bhaderwah District where hundreds of fishes had died mysteriously in November 2020 after strips of different medicines floating in the Neeru River were found. It was reported that the drugs meant for COVID patients were thrown into the above-said river.
Speaking with The Typewriter, Regional Director Jammu, PCB, Dr. Syed Nadeem Hussain said that this is a very serious matter and he will look into the matter.
“Please send me some detail along with a complaint, so that I can take some action,” said Dr. Nadeem.
Director, Health Services of Jammu, Dr Renu Sharma was not available for comments, despite repeated attempts.