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

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.