Skip to main content

Silicosis deaths: Gujarat govt agrees to pay compensation starting with 2006, but refuses to raise amount

By Our Representative
Bowing to the pressure from voluntary agencies fighting for the cause of the deadly occupational disease, silicosis, mainly found among agate workers of Khambhat in Central Gujarat, the Gujarat government has finally agreed to pay up compensation to the family members of those who died because of it with effect from January 1, 2006. The decision sets aside the earlier announcement, made through a government resolution (GR) of January 2014, which said the compensation would be paid to the fatal victims of silicosis death with effect from January 1, 2014. However, the GR issued does not change the amount – Rs 1 lakh – despite representations.
In a statement, while welcoming the government decision, the People’s Training and Research Institute (PTRC), which works among agate workers of Khambhat, said, “The new decision followed a meeting with the state labour secretary in Sachivalaya in Gandhinagar, in which representatives of agate workers participated.” During the meeting, the government official had argued on the need to shift the agate workers to newer occupations. However, PTRC’s Jagdish Patel argued that this is “not easy as it seems”, because there are few alternative sources of livelihood in Khambhat.
The year 2014 has proved to be the deadliest for silicosis victims. In September 2014, two persons, Kanti Mulji Parmar and Prakash Khushal Parmar, died because of the occupational disease, following long illnesses. With this, the total number of deaths in Gujarat this year reached 19, highest in a single year. Jagdish Patel, who has been supporting agate workers’ plight in Khambhat for more than a decade, said, “Both had many things in common. They stayed in same village, in same area. They were from same caste, Dalit vankar. Both were late thirties. They remained unmarried for the similar reasons -- their elder brothers had also died of silicosis.Both were agate polishers. Both lost their parents and brothers who also died because of silicosis. And, both died in September 2014.”
Kanti Mulji Parmar, 19th victim of silicosis in 2014
The PTRC statement said, “Even a state like Rajasthan pays Rs 1 lakh as compensation to immediately after silicosis is diagnosed, and Rs 2 lakh against death. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended that death compensation should be between Rs 2 and 5 lakh. Gujarat, which claims to be a wealthy state, should have shown the way on how it protects its citizens through welfare scheme, particularly at a time when the Prime Minister of India is from the state. However, unfortunately, the new GR keeps the compensation at Rs 1 lakh.”
Regretting that silicosis workers are not covered by any social protection scheme, the PTRC said, “Treating the silicosis victim, once the disease is diagnosed, remains a major issue. While the government has declared that it would provide free healthcare to the victims, there are not enough physicians in government-owned community health centres (CHCs) who can treat the disease. Besides, there aren’t enough medicines available in CHCs. Then, once the disease grips a person, it becomes difficult for the family members to eke a living, about which nothing has been thought.”
“It is extremely important that the government come up with some viable job scheme for and additional help to family members of the person in the grip of disease”, the statement said, indicating, it was not as easy it would seem on the surface for ensuring compensation with effect from January 1, 2006 either. “The agate workers are falling victims of the disease for the last four decades. However, it is only after the PTRC started working among them in Khambhat and lined up with a hospital in Karamsad and a cardiac care centre to diagnose the disease that things became clearer, and we demanded that compensation be paid starting with 2006.”

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.