High death rate among BMC’s clean-up staff | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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High death rate among BMC’s clean-up staff

The city’s conservancy workers are not only ensuring that the city is clean, they are also dying doing it.

mumbai Updated: Apr 09, 2011 00:53 IST
Bhavika Jain

The city’s conservancy workers are not only ensuring that the city is clean, they are also dying doing it. According to the civic body’s statistics, 250 civic conservancy workers died between April 2010 and March 2011 – an average of 21 deaths a month or 4 to 5 deaths each week.

Tuberculosis, cardiac problems, upper tract respiratory problems and HIV-related diseases accounted for most deaths.

“Most deaths are due to chronic TB and intestinal diseases followed by liver cirrhosis. The age group is under 45 years,” said Milind Ranade, general secretary, Kachra Vahatuk Sangh, an association of conservancy workers. He said workers don’t have adequate safety gear, leaving them vulnerable.

There are 27,000 conservancy workers who are class IV civic employees. They sweep roads and collect garbage and are attached to the solid waste management department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Statistics don’t include deaths of conservancy workers on contract and workers cleaning drains and manholes. Although the number of conservancy workers dying is lower than that in the past two years, it is still on the higher side – 272 in 2009-2010 and 294 in 2008-2009.

Additional municipal commissioner, Mohan Adtani, in charge of the department, said reforms were worked on to curb the death rate. “Reforms like upgraded machinery and protective gear, better infrastructure at the workplace and less direct contact with waste are being put in place,” Adtani said.