NASHIK: The MIDC police in Jalgaon district have booked a case against the owner of a mattress manufacturing outlet for allegedly using discarded face masks (instead of cotton) to fill the mattresses. The police have seized the entire stock of the discarded masks and have burnt them.
Used face masks are considered biomedical waste and there are strict guidelines in place for their disposal.
MIDC police station inspector Pratap Shikare told TOI: “Two policemen were patrolling the Kusumba area of the MIDC on Sunday. There they met Radheshesham Chaudhary, the police patil of the village. Chaudhary provided a tip-off about the use of discarded face masks at the mattress manufacturing outlet. I received a call from one of the cops around 11.30 am. I directed the duo to visit the outlet to find out the authenticity of the information.”
According to Shikare, when the two policemen went inside the outlet, they found two vehicles full of used face masks and many masks scattered on the floor. “Some of the employees were busy stuffing these masks inside the fabric covers of the mattresses. Our team asked the staff to stop,” he said.
Shikare said the factory owner claimed this was the first time he was using discarded masks to make mattresses. He had vague responses to questions about how he had procured the masks. The police are trying to find out if any mask-stuffed mattress has already been sold.
“We think the owner may have engaged local rag-pickers, especially children, to accumulate the used masks from various locations in Jalgaon city,” said Shikare.