Most of them have high blood pressure, diabetes, skin diseases

A whopping 70 per cent of the pourakarmikas employed by the Mandya City Municipal Council (CMC) suffer from either diabetes or high blood pressure or something else. This fact came to light during a health check-up camp organised in association with the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) for pourakarmikas here on Friday.

The Mandya CMC has 90 permanent pourakarmikas and has hired 181 on contract. Nearly 120 pourakarmikas and around 80 of their family members attended the camp. Barely 30 per cent of the pourakarmikas were found to be fit.

Doctors at the MIMS, who participated in the camp, observed that nearly 70 per cent of pourakarmikas have high cholesterol level, skin diseases, diabetes, short/long sight, high blood pressure, heart-related illnesses and other health issues.

All those who attended the health check-up camp were aged between 28 and 60, and many of them are vulnerable to cardiac diseases, a doctor said.

The pourakarmikas alleged that the CMC was doing nothing to prevent their health from being affected by doing hazardous job of cleaning the city.“The CMC has stopped issuing hand gloves, safety masks, gumboots and jackets for more than a year now,” pourakarmikas told The Hindu.

Pourakarmikas work for at least 12 hours a day. It is an unimaginable task to clear garbage and sanitary waste from all 35 wards in the city, which has only 271 pourakarmikas, a 35-year-old worker, who is ailing from heart-related illness, said.

“I removed animal carcass on 13 occasions in the last three days. Sometimes we have to remove human waste too,” a 45-year-old pourakarmika, seeking anonymity, said. Speaking to The Hindu, CMC Commissioner S. Prakash admitted that safety gear such as hand gloves, safety masks, gumboots and jackets, and the necessary equipment was not distributed among the pourakarmikas this year.

“We issue two sets of safety gear in a year. This year (2013) so far we have not distributed them among the pourakarmikas as the CMC has not procured them yet,” Mr. Prakash said.

Mr. Prakash also said that the CMC would issue masks, aprons, gloves and other equipments only to those who engage in spraying medicines and chemicals.

Pourakarmikas are working hard to remove garbage and hazardous waste across the city. But, a majority of them are suffering from illness because of lack of awareness, Dr Shivakumar, Medical Superintendent, MIMS, said.

More In: Karnataka | National