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On the job: No choice but to breathe poison

Braving the extreme weather and inhaling all kinds of pollutants — vehicular and industrial — they stand on the road all day to ensure the smooth movement of traffic. The result is not surprising. Subhendu Ray reports.

delhi Updated: Dec 30, 2011 02:48 IST
Subhendu Ray

Braving the extreme weather and inhaling all kinds of pollutants — vehicular and industrial — they stand on the road all day to ensure the smooth movement of traffic. The result is not surprising.

Respiratory problems, heart diseases, cancer and musculoskeletal and neurological disorders are prevalent among Delhi Traffic Police personnel, according to the initial findings of a study conducted by Maulana Azad Medical College on the effects of environmental pollution on 5,000 personnel.

But the Delhi Police administration neither has any arrangement in place to get affected policemen treated nor it maintains a database of such personnel.

“We never maintain such a database,” said Rajan Bhagat, Delhi Police spokesperson.

Dr Dinesh Kumar, associate professor, MAMC, said: "We have started the process and hopefully in six months we will be able to complete it."http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/30-12-pg4a.jpg

Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic), said: “Our department does not discourage people from seeking transfers. If anybody seeks a transfer on health grounds, we act very promptly. But the reality is that hardly any traffic police personnel would seek transfer from the unit.”

This year, 20 policemen -- four sub-inspectors, six assistant sub inspectors, six head constables and four constables — have sought transfers on health grounds and all of them were shifted out of the traffic unit.

A Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) doctor said, on condition of anonymity: “A few months ago, a traffic constable with several ailments had come to see me. He was suffering from severe respiratory diseases and had high blood pressure and sugar. I asked him to take a recommendation from me to seek a transfer from the traffic unit on health grounds but he refused.”

Traffic police personnel complain of apathy.

Ram Kumar (name changed), a head constable, said: “Service in the traffic police for the last six years has given me sleeplessness, obesity and bronchitis. But hardly do I have the scope to see a doctor or undergo medication. Don’t you think that my department should let me lead a healthy life? If not, should not they at least pay us for our treatment?”

Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education, a non-profit organisation, said: “Diseases such as respiratory problems, stomach ailments and hypertension are quite common among traffic police personnel. Long duty hours, unavailability of proper food and pure drinking water, and exposure to air and noise pollution make them vulnerable to such ailments. But Delhi Police does not pay any heed to this problem.”