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ISLAMABAD: The government has given permission for importing a large amount of hospital waste from abroad, which is used to manufacture toys and other household items, the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology was told on Monday.

The issue was brought up by a representative of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR).

“The waste is used for manufacturing shoes, crockery, toys and other household items. Those things are extremely hazardous and can become the cause of many diseases. The committee should play its role in banning the import of hospital waste,” he told the committee.

PPP Senator Dr Sikandar Mandhro said this is a very dangerous practice and suggested the committee look into the issue immediately.

Such items are hazardous, can lead to diseases, PCSIR tells Senate body

Committee chairman Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said he was shocked to know toys are made of hospital waste.

“This can be very dangerous for children,” he said.

PTI Senator Azam Khan Swati said there were so many similar issues that need to be addressed and no one is bothered about them.

“Those who are supposed to be looking into these matters keep quiet after receiving bribes. Hospital waste is nothing but garbage and other children play with it,” he said.

Sharing his experiences as minister science and technology, Mr Swati said whitener used by sugar mills is becoming a cause of cancer.

“I sealed 11 sugar mills but all went to court, obtained stay orders and started manufacturing sugar again. Ministries hire the services of advocates for Rs30,000 to Rs300,000 but sugar mills and other companies pay lawyers Rs50 million. So, we should understand the difference between lawyers of government departments and the private sector,” he said.

The committee chairman urged Mr Swati to play his role in addressing health issues and that the committee will not compromise on these.

Cabinet Committee on Science and Technology

Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology Yasmin Masood said the ministry has prepared a briefing in which it is suggested that a cabinet committee should be established to address issues related to science and technology.

The committee chairman recommended that the cabinet committee be established at the earliest. He said there was also a need to keep a check on departments and ensure they are performing well.

However, Mr Swati suggested the departments which are not performing well or are not contributing to the exchequer should be closed down.

“The Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) is one of the major examples as it does not do anything and has become a burden on the exchequer. I suggest it should be closed down as a number of private companies provide solar panels at cheaper rates and the council has not shown any progress,” he said.

The same is the case with the Utility Store Corporation, he said.

“I had one super store and went on to make 30 others but the Utility Store Corporation is facing losses,” he said.

PCRET was established after merging the National Institute of Silicon Technology and the Pakistan Council for Appropriate Technologies in 2001. It is the prime institution in the country for coordinating research and development and promotional activities in different renewable energy technologies.

Ms Masood said PCRET’s mandate was research and not commercial activity.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018