Skip to main content

NIOH, Ahmedabad, "not competent" to judge if workers suffering from occupational disease be compensated

By Our Representative
Strongly responding to Gujarat government’s decision not to accede to its demand for including two important occupational diseases in the list of those that can invite compensation under the employees’ compensation Act, Vadodara-based NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC) has protested against the manner in which the decision was taken. 
In a letter to Gujarat’s labour secretary, PTRC director Jagdish Patel has especially found it strange that the matter of paying compensation -- to those suffering from musculoskeletal diseases (MSD) and the diseases caused due to exposure to polyacrylate – was referred to the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad. “NIOH carries out scientific research in occupational health. It does not work on social impact of occupational diseases”, Patel has asserted.
In its two-liner, Patel was informed by the Gujarat government a few days back that the director, industrial safety and health, had taken the opinion of the NIOH, Ahmedabad, which “refused to recommend” on the matter. Polyacrylate is found several of applications of Gujarat’s pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, leading to serious lung diseases, which are caused on exposure to polyacrylate. 
As for MSD, it is caused to different types of workers, ranging from computer operators in printing industry, construction workers, agriculture workers, workers in manufacturing, drivers, mine workers and others, who become prey to spondylitis and other disabilities. Workers of General Motors, Halol, went on strike in 2010 against refusal of the company to give compensation to those suffering from MSD.
Patel’s response to the labour secretary says, “I was pained to go through the content of your letter. Your department sought opinion of NIOH. NIOH is an institute which carries out scientific research in occupational health. It does not work on the aspect of social impact of occupational diseases. It does not employ any social scientists, qualified social workers or lawyers. Our representation was purely legal. We strongly feel that seeking NIOH opinion on the subject was totally misplaced as NIOH is not competent to offer any advice on socio-legal aspects of occupational health.”
Pointing out that it would have been better had the Gujarat government had invited his team in the PTRC to discuss out the issue across the table instead of brushing aside the demand by sending a two-line letter, Patel has called the NIOH stand as “shocking”. Pointing out that the NIOH is a “premier institute working on occupational health and, based on its research, it should keep on advising governments on the state of occupational health in the country and the diseases faced by the working population”, Patel says, his NGO will now have to take up the matter “separately with NIOH, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union ministries of health and labour.”
Patel says, “It would have been good had the department sought opinion from multiple agencies to include individuals and institutions. State has a labour institute called Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute (MGLI). Faculties associated with MGLI may have been able to offer their opinion. Directorate General, Factory Advice and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) Mumbai, retired High Court judges, compensation commissioners, social scientists, trade unionists, social workers, labour NGOs, public health experts, and economists could have been contacted to give their opinion.”
Calling occupational health as “the most neglected aspects of public health”, Patel says, “In spite of legal provisions, workers claiming compensation for various occupational diseases are rare due to unfriendly social environment. Workers are scared of management wrath, they have no knowledge of their rights, they do not trust the system will offer them justice, doctors do not write diagnosis on paper, trade unions have not given enough importance to occupation health – such is the situation". 
He adds, "As a result, millions of workers each year are pushed out of the labour market due to disability. This weakens our economy and impacts the GDP. Compensation would encourage industry to improve situation at work, on one hand, and give social justice to the sufferers, on the other.”
Praising Gujarat’s “industrial peace” which has “contributed a lot in industrial progress”, Patel believes, “Gujarat has been a welfare state, and we have had a healthy mahajani tradition, where influential classes of society, including the government, consider workers’ welfare as their prime responsibility. The decision is not befitting this tradition. In spite of unfavourable opinion by the NIOH, the state could have gone ahead with its own decision.” 
Wondering how the government could deprive our workers from their due legal rights, Patel wants the labour secretary to put on hold “the decision in larger interest of society in general and working population in particular”. I look forward to your intimation when we can meet to discuss the issue.

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).