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Mumbai’s Lone COVID Waste Plant Causing Health Problems for Locals

A legal notice has been sent to the Maharshtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) with signatures of over 100 locals.

Updated
My Report
3 min read

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Video Producer: Aliza Noor

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, we, the residents of Govandi in Mumbai, have been facing problems due to a biomedical waste plant that has been emitting black thick smoke and hazardous gases since the past few months. The plant is owned by SMS Envoclean Private Limited.

Our issue has been represented by Advocate Saif Alam and we have also sent a legal notice to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) with the signatures of over 100 locals who have suffered because of the emission.

Several residents have reported respiratory and skin diseases as direct outcomes of inhaling this poisonous gas.

It must be noted that this plant is Mumbai’s only biomedical waste treatment facility appointed by the BMC to deal with the city’s COVID-19 waste.

(The Quint has access to the legal notice sent by the locals).

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The advocate has been active on Twitter, posting images and information about the problems faced by locals.
The advocate has been active on Twitter, posting images and information about the problems faced by locals.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Generating Twice the Amount of Waste

The plant has been in the area since 2007. People come, protest and then leave. The government says that they will get it closed. In 2018, the state Board issued a notice to shut the plant but the high court stayed the order.

Amid pandemic, reports suggest that the plant has exhausted its capacity as the city is generating twice the amount of biomedical waste. Yet, this plant is the only BMC-appointed facility to deal with COVID-19 waste.

The smoke from the plant has led to a lot of visible effects on the people and surroundings. It has led to diseases like tuberculosis, asthma and blood cancer.

“We park our cars in this area at night and very often during the winters, the particles linger on the surfaces like mist would. The dust stays on the ground and on cars. The smoke enters the houses and settles on the utensils and blackens them.”
Ahmed Khan, Local 

Apart from these factors, the locals have also observed a lot of discrepancies in the company’s annual report of 2019.

Another local, Aariz Khan, stated how the company has not mentioned how much NOx or other hazardous gases are being produced. “Dioxin and Furin are very dangerous. It leads to immunity diseases, and complications in birth and after. They claim that through online mechanism, the CPCB and MPCB keep records. We have also filed an RTI on this to know better,” he said.

‘Urge Environment Minister to Intervene’

Under section 4 of the Air Pollution Act of 1981, a state Board needs to be formed to give guidelines to such waste units. Having such an authority makes them responsible and accountable, but they have failed miserably at prioritising the health of the locals.

Before sending a legal notice to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), we want to urge Mumbai’s Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray to direct the MPCP to take appropriate and stringent action in this matter.

Locals have urged the chief minister to help them in this issue.
Locals have urged the chief minister to help them in this issue.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

All we want to know is if any action is being taken on our notice to mitigate pollution in the area and also know more about the permissions given to the plant, so that there is no violation of rules.

Speaking to The Quint, an official from MPCB’s regional office said, “This issue is in the Bombay High Court right now, it's a sub judice matter, hence we do not want to give any statement on this for now.”

The Quint also reached out to SMS Envoclean Private Limited and their response will be added once received.

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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