Bit­ter medicine

It is time to treat pharma waste more rig­or­ously. The waste con­tains ac­tive in­gre­di­ents used in an­tibi­otics and may be con­tribut­ing to the spread of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance |


SPREAD OVER 380 square kilo­me­tres in Hi­machal Pradesh’s Solan district, the Baddi-Baroti­walaNala­garh (bbn) in­dus­trial area is one of In­dia’s largest phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs. The re­gion hosts around 500 small, medium and large pharma units and ac­counts for 35 per cent of Asia’s to­tal medicine production. But rapid in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and a lax at­ti­tude to­wards safe dis­posal and man­age­ment of pharma waste have raised con­cerns about the ef­fects of pol­lu­tion on the en­vi­ron­ment and health.

The wa­ter of the Sirsa river, which flows down­stream through Baddi, is black and em­anates a foul odour. In Jhar­ma­jri vil­lage, which has the largest num­ber of pharma units, res­i­dent Balvin­der Thakur points to an open area where solid waste has been burnt. The burnt waste, which con­tains medicine wrap­pers, flows along with waste­water into a dirty canal nearby. “All of this is go­ing to the river,” he says. Pharma man­u­fac­tur­ing units are re­quired to send their solid waste to the treat­ment, storage, and dis­posal fa­cil­ity (tsdf). But peo­ple in the area al­lege that pharma units some­times do not com­ply with these norms. “To cut down on costs, waste is given to scrap deal­ers who visit plants. They dump the

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