Efforts of the Government Medical College Hospital authorities to keep the premises clean and litter-free have received a fillip with the District Collector stepping in to declare the premises a ‘plastic-free zone'.

The official declaration to this effect was issued recently.

The Collector's order backs the Clean Campus campaign, launched by the hospital authorities as part of the pre-monsoon infectious diseases prevention and control activities on the premises. “Plastic bags, especially the fly-away kind in which food is brought, have always been a major problem for us,” says Sara Varghese, Professor of Community Medicine and coordinator of the State Prevention of Epidemics and Infectious Diseases (PEID) Cell at the medical college.

Principal of the medical college Ramdas Pisharody issued a circular to all department heads, banning plastic on the campus. He also issued a public awareness notice, urging shopkeepers and traders in the medical college area to help implement the ban.

“We personally went around the medical college area distributing this notice and appealing to shops and small hotels to put up sign boards that food will not be sold in plastic bags anymore. Most of them agreed to our suggestion but we wanted the district administration to legally back us,” Dr. Sara says.

The order issued by the District Collector, banning plastic on the premises, says plastic constitute a major portion of the waste generated there.

The Collector has banned the use of plastic materials having a thickness of 40 microns or less inside the campus. The copies of the order have been issued to the City Corporation, the Pollution Control Board and the Medical College Police.

The hospital authorities say food waste in the hospital is put in pits and covered. But the huge amount of plastic in the food waste—a meal packet will have at least five or six small plastic covers in which individual dishes are packed—does not allow the waste to degrade properly.

The magnitude of the problem could be imagined given the fact that the hospital has close to 1,700 bed.

To create patient awareness, a notice is being pinned with every inpatient registration ticket, asking the patient's family to bring food only in non-disposable containers.

The hospital staff are also being given training.

Several bill boards have come up all over the premises, telling the public it is a plastic-free zone. A digital display board is also coming up.