A recent health survey carried out by MEd students of the Chandrashekhar Agashe Physical Education College on 480 drivers and conductors from PMPML and MSRTC revealed that more than 50 per cent of the sample had above normal BMI index and fat percentage, while 52 per cent was suffering from diabetes, blood pressure or heart-related conditions.
The observations were alarming, considering that in the last six months two MSRTC drivers — Vilas Nanavre (51) and Naushad Sheikh (48) — died on the spot after suffering a severe heart attack while driving. Fortunately not a single passenger was injured in both the incidents, as buses were being driven at low speeds.
Dr Naina Nimkar, principal of the Chandrashekhar Agashe College, said, “Drivers and conductors do the most hectic job and yet they are not familiar with the concept of physical literacy. The survey is an effort to spread awareness among them.” The survey was initiated by associate professor Dr Sharad Aher along with his colleagues and students. Mahesh Deshpande did the analysis.
Drivers and conductors claimed that long working hours and poor facilities were the prime reasons for their health problems. Hanumant Tate, general secretary of the MSRTC Workers Union, said, “Though an eight-hour shift has been specified on paper, but they end up working for 10 hours. For Pune-Nashik or Pune-Kolhapur route, the MSRTC has specified a four-and-half-hour journey, but considering heavy traffic and other problems it takes a minimum of six hours. Most of the drivers and conductors work for extra two to three hours a day. Facilities like restrooms and canteen, among others, are in pathetic condition. Such bad facilities add extra burden on employees.”
An MSRTC official said yearly checkups were carried on employees who were over 40. “After Santosh Mane incident, we conducted a special drive at all the depots. Now, the MSRTC has installed proper health monitoring system wherein a specially appointed committee submits report every three months, depot-wise. Six months ago, we appointed three councillors at district level who regularly visit various depots to understand psychological problems of the drivers.”
Tate said the checkups were just a formality and not a solution for the problems faced by drivers and conductors. “Having employee-friendly working conditions and better facilities is the only solution,” Tate said. A N Anpur, secretary of the PMPL Workers Union, said inadequate manpower was the root cause of the problem, as it prevented drivers and conductors from taking leaves. “Around 3,000 employees are working on daily wages. They don’t get sick or casual leaves. So most of the drivers are suffering from hypertension and blood pressure,” Anpur said.
Sample size surveyed, out of which 380 were from PMPML and 180 from MSRTC
>> 75% people were found with fat percentage over 23.10 per cent, which is considered critical
>> 87.5% people suffering from ailments had fat levels touching the critical mark
>> Overweight people: 180
>> Obese people: 36