For many of us work means comfort of an air-conditioned office, but unfortunately safaai kaamdaars (sanitation workers) of the city are devoid of such luxury. And thanks to the unhealthy work conditions, these people are more prone to occupational hazards.
According to data obtained from the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), around 200 safaai kaamdaars turn unfit every year, which pose a major threat to their life and family.
“We receive more than 400 applications from safaai kaamdaars, wanting to be declared unfit and discontinue the job. After receiving the applications, we carry out medical tests and certify around 200 applicants as unfit every year,” said, one of the officials of AMC requesting anonymity.
Before the city wakes up and the roads get busy with traffic, the safaai kaamdaars sweep the streets and ensure that it is clean.
Unclean road and the environment they work in every day make them vulnerable and eventually take a toll on their health.
The AMC official said that around 80% of the 400 applicants are declared unfit because of their age while occupational hazard accounts for the remaining 20%.
One of the activists from Kaamdaar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal (KSSM), HP Mishra said that in reality the number of workers turning unfit is increasing every day.
“Surprisingly, there are no records with any agency or body about what kind of diseases they suffer from. Respiratory diseases are not the only thing affecting them. Weakness at an early age, vision problem, backache or sudden death, nobody knows what diseases these people are suffering from,” said Mishra.
The AMC official, on the other hand, presented a different perspective for the high number of workers turning unfit.
“The kin of retired safaai kaamdaars get a job with AMC, which may also be the reason for people claiming to be unfit,” the official said.
However, the statement contradicts the stated procedure where each applicant is medically tested and approved as fit for the job.
Mishra also added that KSSM is in talks with doctors from Karamsad medical college to carry out regular health checkups for workers who face occupational hazards.