OU mess still in dark ages as firewood used as fuel

As per WHO, exposure to pollution from burning wood increases risk of pneumonia, stroke, ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer

Published: 22nd April 2017 04:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2017 04:50 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Osmania University might be completing 100 years of its existence but when it comes to its kitchens, modern approach, labour welfare, fire safety or labour laws, nothing seems to apply. In about 10 mess kitchens in Osmania University where firewood is still being used as cooking fuel, the cooks - for a monthly salary of `9,000 - take the risk of getting grievously injured in fire accidents everyday.

A visit to one of these kitchens made it amply clear the kind of risk the cooks take everyday, as they shove wood into furnace while cooking, work in kitchens having black greasy walls with no fire extinguishers and poor ventilation.

Cook at Osmania University sweating due
to the fumes exhumed by the burning
wood, in Hyderabad on Friday | r satish babu

All this is done, three times a day. Minor burn injuries are common among the cooks. Kitchens turn into furnaces in afternoons due to extreme temperatures released by burning wood.

Burning firewood as fuel is also a health hazard. As per  World Health Organisation (WHO), exposure to pollution from burning wood increases risk of pneumonia, stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Syed Ameer, who has been working as a cook since more than a decade says, “I have problem of sinusitis and have been taking treatment for that. The smoke from burning wood keeps aggravating the issue. I have problem in eyes as they burn due to exposure to smoke.”

S Lakshman, another cook says, “The utensils which get damaged are not replaced quickly. Sometimes if there is small whole in the cooking utensil, oil leaks into the furnace and suddenly a ball of fire emerges. We try to cover it by dough but it does not stick for too long. LPG is used for dosas stoves. However, flame gets out from the stove and sometimes burns our stomach. We complained many times but to no use.”

Praveen, another cook says, “There is no support from university if someone gets injured. Around a month ago, a woman cook in ladies hostel got her hand crushed in grinder while making dosa. While she received no compensation or medical support from the university, she did not even receive salary as she was home recuperating.”

Women work as support in the mess kitchens work for 11-12 hours for just around `6,000 per month. As part of their daily work they have to even peel around 4-5 kilos of red chilies everyday and grind them which leaves their hands burning. They also have to grind spices to make masala for curries. All this just because the university does not want to spend more money on buying ready made chili powder.

Principals of colleges and the wardens deal with hostels and messes. When contacted, arts college, principal, prof T Krishna Rao, principal of arts college said, “If government provides money to modernise the mess kitchens, the university will do it.” An official from Ladies Hostels, said, “The university finds it costly to use LPG for cooking. There is no mechanism for providing compensation to someone if they get injured in kitchen.”


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp