Workers at Airoli octroi centre can't dust this off

Bad roads, dusty surroundings and mosquitoes have deteriorated working conditions with around 50 workers complaining of respiratory disorders

The Airoli octroi collection centre, which collects about Rs 20 to Rs 25 lakh a day as revenue, is in shambles.
The decrepit and ill-maintained building has been taking a toll on the health of its workers. About 50 octroi personnel, who work in three different shifts at the centre, have complained of respiratory problems stemming from the clouds of dust perennially hanging over the centre. They claim that their repeated requests for maintenance and repair have fallen on deaf ears.

Kicking up a storm: With vehicles leaving clouds of dust in their wake

Workers claim that the entry and exit points and the terminal for heavy-duty vehicles are uneven and pockmarked.

Drivers as well as authorities have complained that vehicles leave behind dust clouds, making it difficult for them to breathe. To prevent the dust from flying around, workers often have to spinkle water from the nearby pipeline, which in turn leads to muddy puddles, which become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Workers are forced to pour water, which in turn leads to muddy puddles.
PICS/Datta Kumbhar

Moreover, the untrimmed vegetation, mossy floor have also encouraged insects to breed within the premises.

"The visibility is very poor and the vehicles must be steered with extreme caution. Potholes too are a major issue," said an octroi officer.

Uttamrao Yadav, superintendent of the Airoli octroi collection centre, claims to have written letters to the civic body and the Octroi Department, but to no avail. Yadav said, "There's so much dust that a white cloth turns brown in a few hours. Moreover, this place is a hotspot for accidents, due to the low visibility and poor roads. None of the authorities seem to be paying heed to our requests. If they fail to address the issue, I shall write to the Chief Minister. Even the security guards in charge of manning the trucks fall ill regularly and don't want to work at the centre."

Fact File
Built in the same year as the Airoli toll naka, the octroi centre was put into operation in 1999. Every day, the centre handles about 1,000 vehicles, including trucks, tempos and heavy load containers that pay octroi before entering city limits.

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