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

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."