Monday, March 31, 2014

Two more silicosis victims die in Khambhat, taking total death in 2014 due to occupational disease to six

Thakor Fatesinh Rathod
By Our Representative
Two more workers, who were suffering from silicosis and were working in the agate industry, have died in Khambhat in Central Gujarat. A People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), the Vadodara-based NGO which has been taking up silicosis workers' problems for the last several years, has said that who who have "succumbed to their disease in this week" are Thakor Fatesinh Rathod, who died on March 30, 2014, and Jivan Kalidas Baraiya, who died on March 23, 2014. With this, the total number of those who have died as a result of the deadly disease has reached six.
Earlier, four persons died of silicosis in January 2014 are -- Nannusha Diwan, Rukhi Jethabhai, Chirag Soni and Yusuf Malek. At present, PTRC said, as many as 140 workers are working in agate units in Gujarat, are said to be suffering from silicosis. "About 10 are in a very poor state of health", he added. PTRC's Jagdish Patel, who has taken up the issue of compensation to silicosis workers, believes that despite the suffering of these workers, the Gujarat government has not much to improve their light."
He added, "Though the Government of Gujarat revised its scheme to compensate against the deaths, under which an amount of Rs 1 lakh each is to be given in case of death, and the the Rural Labour Commissioner (RLC) was to implement the scheme, unfortunately, “the rules have not yet been framed, nor are the claim forms available with the RLC."
Jivan K Baraiya
While in Gujarat a lengthy procedure and a long time as bog the government, allegedly due to poor staffing, the Gujarat indifference has come about at a time when other states, especially the “poorer” ones -- Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh -- have begun to pay to the kin of those who die of silicosis. Even the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has failed to motivate the state government to take any concrete steps.
All this is happening at a time when the Supreme Court passed an interim order in 2009 in PIL on Silicosis 110/2006, directing the NHRC to go ahead with relief in case of confirmed cases of death due to silicosis and rehabilitation in case of workers living with silicosis. “Unfortunately, the Government of Gujarat has not come out with any scheme for rehabilitation”, says Patel.
Gujarat government indifference towards silicosis victims was further highlighted after the state officialdom decided to ignore another NHRC advice late last year, sent in the form of a “recommendation”, to pay up Rs 5 lakh each to five workers who had died of the deadly silicosis disease about three years ago.

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