Lifestyle disease is no longer a strange term to we Mumbaikars. The principal cause is ‘Stress’. Stress affects every sphere of our life starting from health to happiness. It leads to hypertension, diabetes mental depression, obesity, chronic diseases and other stress related chronic diseases which are popularly known as “Lifestyle diseases.” We all know how fatal they are.
In a city like Mumbai, where people swear by each minute, there’s one major factor contributing to the stress levels of its citizens apart from the lifestyle habits that’s not being discussed and considered with due importance. The government and the municipal bodies also have their role in it.
‘It’s the time and manner we Mumbaikars commute to work.’
About Fifty seven per cent of Mumbai’s 125 lakh resident population lives within three kilometres of their place of work; 69% within five kilometres and 81% within 10 kilometres. 89% live within fifteen kilometres from their place of work and only 1% lives beyond.
44% do not use any other mode of transport for their daily work commute, they walk. 3.1% use bicycles, 2.8% use personal motorcars and 8.5% use public transport such as auto-rickshaws and taxis. The rest use the suburban railway system and BEST buses.
These statistics already reveal a lot. But there is one more statistic that needs to be mentioned before embarking of the topic of this write-up. As per a recent survey and estimate by a leading publication house there are about 75 lakh people who travel by suburban railway system daily, nearly equal to the rest of Indian Railway system users. At peak period extended over three and a half hours in the morning and another three and a half hours in the evening the crowd that travels in the tidal direction is about 360 thousand persons per hour while the capacity of the system is close to about 160 thousand per hour and will attain a capacity of 180 thousand per hour by 2014.
During the off-peak period, the frequency of trains is reduced, but consequently the crowd density in the trains and on platforms does not reduce significantly. There are about 40 lakh bus commuters, three-fourths of who travel by the suburban railway.
With this as background, let us get on with the topic.
Practically everyone walks in Mumbai even most of car users and two wheeler users—short and very short distances if not those three kilometres. There is no doubt that the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has improved footpath surface by providing good quality and aesthetics interlocking concrete paver blocks but at many places poor adherence to specifications in laying them have resulted in dangerously unevenness of the surface. These new narrow footpaths have not only retained older encroachments but added new ones, compelling pedestrians to walk on the carriageways. Motorcars do get parked on the footpaths which is not at all safe or comfortable. Many places have garbage dumped on the footpaths and the stench and unhygienic conditions also gets a pedestrian go on the carriageway; the stench itself creates some degree of stress. There is this lurking fear that one may get hit by an heavy vehicle, car or two wheeler, good reason for STRESS to get built within without realizing it.
Waiting for a bus and boarding it is also stressful as the noise level on the roads are unbearable, fear of bus starting off before one has boarded the bus and then the noise level within the bus after boarding it. Crowd density in the bus is not comparable to the one in railway system but during peak time it is still high and this also is a reason for creating STRESS.
Negotiating the crowd on staircases, foot over bridges, platforms and the train plus the anxiety while boarding a train or getting down the whole process is STRESSFUL
With walking back home from the railway stations and bus stops becoming an tedious task, not getting a taxi or auto-rickshaw, especially when it rains which keeps roads wet and full of potholes is also a reason adding to STRESS. After reaching home, is there scope to DE-STRESS ?
The noise levels from loudly playing TVs and sound systems give no respite. The only time one can really de-stress is at night time as defined in the noise rule—10pm to 6am. The quietness does provide the necessary restful sleep to cope up with the onslaught of next day’s series of stresses.
The remaining stress accumulates resulting in ailments such as cardio-vascular as well as high blood pressure, opening up possibilities of stroke. Stresses also triggers off diabetes.
Please give a thought about the analogy I have cited below when you travel in a Mumbai local the next time.
Airline pilots have a strict schedule of number of flying hours they can log per week. After all they do carry between 100 to 300 passengers and their lives cannot be put to risk due to physical fatigue of the pilot. There is also a co-pilot. They are also provided with many other luxuries. All this for persons who are actually concentrating only during landings and take-offs. Most other times the plane is flying on auto-pilot.
On the other hand the motorman of the railway system is not only stressed up like any citizen of Mumbai for various reasons mentioned above but has to be drive the train with full attention all the time. Slowing down, speeding up at different locations, stopping at stations and starting off every three to five minutes, keep attention on the tracks for any technical snag and possible track crossings by commuters lost in thoughts or in conversations on mobile phones or listening to music on earphones. A motorman has barely three to five minutes before the return trip begins. This motorman carries about 3,500 persons and sometimes nearer 5,000 in the train he is driving. I need not discuss the amenities provided if any to these motormen to de-stress.
The amenities and breaks in work are after all to de-stress themselves and lower the risks to commuters, is it not?
Railways apart, what is government doing to lower the stress in the stressed up Mumbaikar?
A lot is needed and can be done for a more efficient and stress free transport system for the financial capital of India.
The government seems to be busy trying to meet the needs of the very small section of our population, perhaps not realizing that its inaction is leading to a majority of people getting stressed up affecting their health. Under Article 21 of Indian Constitution that is unacceptable.
Kindly share your views and opinions for the same.