Quite often, people raise a lot of hue and cry over the increasing automobile pollution in the urban areas causing severe health hazards, but little do they know that the worst sufferers of the pollution are the traffic police personnel.
In Hyderabad, the fifth largest metropolitan city in the country, 32 per cent of the traffic police personnel are suffering from lung-related disorders like pneumonia and bronchitis because of severe air pollution, while 25 per cent of them are facing hearing impairment due to high-level of noise pollution and another seven per cent of the traffic cops are complaining about eye-related problems due to dust particles.
According to the official figures, there are in all, 3,236 traffic police personnel in Hyderabad in various cadres – including 19 inspectors, 77 sub-inspectors, 13 assistant SIs, 172 head constables, 846 constables and 1,276 home guards.
This was revealed by Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) C V Anand at a presentation made before the parliamentary standing committee on science, technology, environment and forests last week. He explained to the committee members and officials at length how increasing air pollution due to automobile exhausts and noise was affecting the health of traffic cops in Hyderabad over the years.
That a high percentage of traffic cops are suffering from automobile pollution had come to light when the traffic police department conducted a health camp conducted for them a couple of months ago. Anand brought to the notice of the parliamentary standing committee that in the last 45 days, three traffic constables succumbed to health problems while performing their duties at different high-traffic corridors – Abids, Kukatpally and Rethibowli.
According to the department sources, the total number of vehicles operating in Hyderabad city as on August 31, 2012 is 25.8 lakh, but if the sub-urban areas of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation are also taken into consideration, the total number of vehicles is more than 35 lakh. Of them, 74 per cent are two-wheelers, while 15 per cent of them are cars and three per cent are auto-rickshaws. The main polluting vehicles, according to the officials are autos, state-run RTC buses, vehicles of more than 15-20 year old and government transport vehicles.
Anand further said out of 585 traffic junctions in Hyderabad city, 125 junctions such as those at Chaderghat, Dilsukhnagar, Madina, Moazzam Jahi Market, Lakdi-ka-pool and Sanjeeva Reddy Nagar are identified as highly-polluted areas. Another 200 traffic junctions are identified as medium-pollution zones.
Anand said though the department was providing the traffic cops with one disposable nose mask each every day, besides Polaroid dark spectacles and rain coats, they were not able to prevent the cops from facing severe health hazards. He said the department was conducting periodical health camps for the cops and shifting the staff from polluting to non-polluting areas on a rotation basis.
He pointed out that the RTA department had outsourced the vehicle pollution checking to private agencies, they were not doing their job properly. He said the agencies be provided with latest technology to check vehicular pollution and give no-pollution certificates. For this, the state pollution control board should play a proactive role and step up supervision on outsourced agencies, he said.
The senior IPS officer suggested that the Central Motor Vehicle Act be amended to incorporate strict penal provision for checking polluting vehicles. “An additional section 185 (b) should be incorporated in the Central MV Act for both air and sound pollution with clauses for imposing heavy penalty and imprisonment for persons driving polluting vehicles,” he said.
Anand also wanted that the traffic cops be provided with air and noise pollution analysers on the lines of breath analysers (used for detecting alcohol content in the breath of drunken drivers). For this, there should be better coordination between the pollution control board, road transport authority and the traffic police department, he said.
According to official figures, the total vehicular pollution load in Hyderabad had gone up from 528 tonnes in 1992 to 1246 tonnes per day in 2006. This has now gone up to more than 1500 tonnes per day. Interestingly, Department of Environmental Toxicology of Institute of Genetics under Osmania University also conducted a study three years ago on the impact of vehicular exhaust on the traffic policemen in the city. The study revealed that the traffic cops are vulnerable to cytogenetic changes due to chromosomal mutations, if they are exposed to high-levels of pollution and that would lead to enhanced risk of suffering from cancer. India Today