Amid the coronavirus scare, a man has been booked for allegedly dumping used face masks at an open space in Maharashtra’s Thane district, police said on Monday. The matter came to light after some television channels showed clippings of used masks stored at a godown in Bhiwandi township on Saturday. Taking suo moto cognisance of the reports, district health officer Manish Renge directed the Food and Drug Administration, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the police to carry out an inspection of the godown. However, even before the authorities could complete their task, the accused, Imran Shaikh (22), allegedly removed all the masks from the godown and dumped them at an open space at Purna village on Retibunder Road in Bhiwandi, a police official said.
Later, videos of the masks dumped in the open were also telecast by some channels following which the police registered a case against Shaikh on Sunday evening. Shaikh has been booked under Indian Penal Code Section 269 (whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life), Narpoli police station’s senior inspector Maloji Shinde said, adding the accused has not yet been arrested. Renge told that the MPCB has been directed to destroy about 25,000 masks, which were dumped in the open and seized by authorities, by following the standard operating procedure. He said these masks might have been used in hospitals as well as industries, and were meant for one-time use. The district administration in an official release said the masks, before being dumped in the open space, were store at a godown in Val village of Bhiwandi.