Syringes, needles poke their way into Kodungaiyur dumping yard

Biomedical waste is indiscriminately dumped at the yard.

Updated - November 16, 2021 09:32 pm IST

Published - August 08, 2013 03:43 am IST - CHENNAI

Rag pickers at Kodungaiyur dumping yard run the risk of contracting infections, when they come in contact with biomedical waste dumped there. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Rag pickers at Kodungaiyur dumping yard run the risk of contracting infections, when they come in contact with biomedical waste dumped there. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

It is not just organic and plastic waste alone that has piled up over the years in the Kodungaiyur garbage dumping yard. Despite biomedical waste management norms in place, the yard continues to receive biomedical waste in various forms. Rules specify that only biodegradable garbage from hospitals and clinics should be sent over to dump yards. But, biomedical waste including syringes — many with needles — injection vials, intravenous fluid bags and tubes, masks, blood-stained cotton swabs and beds are indiscriminately dumped at the yard even today.

A study conducted three years ago by the Central Pollution Control Board found around 50-55 per cent of biomedical waste is collected, segregated and treated as per Biomedical Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011, while the rest is dumped with municipal solid wastes in the country.

Now, in 2013, the study’s findings could still get endorsement at the Kodungaiyur garbage dumping yard.

(Download a list of useful tips here > )

A walk through the dumping yard, amidst mounds of garbage that towered over most houses in the vicinity, led to several spots where biomedical waste has been dumped.

On top of one mound were a number of saline bags with tubes, alongside a few hospital beds. A climb down the mounds led to a swamp where hundreds of syringes and glass vials were dumped.

Several rag pickers, who have first access to the garbage disposed at the yard, said the biomedical waste is dumped along with general solid waste at Kodungaiyur.

“Garbage unloaded from lorries are collected in bags and taken for segregation. We come across different kinds of hospital waste, including syringes and glass bottles,” said 41-year-old Shanthi, a rag picker. Her husband Abu (48) claimed the rag pickers do not collect the syringes. “Sometimes the needles or broken vials pierce our hands or legs,” he said. Another rag picker said he had also come across bags containing blood and that they collected the IV bags and tubes along with the plastic waste for selling.

A former Chennai Corporation engineer said though major hospitals have streamlined their garbage disposal mechanism to an extent, small clinics continued to dump their waste indiscriminately, along with the general waste. Doctors say rag pickers who are exposed to such waste could develop gastritis, gastro enteritis and skin lesions/allergy.

My Chennai My Right, an inititative by The Hindu

Send us pictures of extreme instances of garbage affecting normal life in Chennai.

We would also like to hear about what you are doing to manage waste

Email us at

Web : >

Facebook : >

Twitter : >@chennaicentral

Hashtag : #cleanchennai

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.