Skip to main content

Gujarat labour court orders cent per cent payment of compensation to deadly silicosis victims

Kamila Fata Kamol, one of the applicants
By Our Representative
In a judgment of considerable significance for those suffering from the deadly occupational disease, silicosis, in Gujarat, the labour court in Vadodara has asked the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) -- a Government of India undertaking “tailored” to provide health-related protection to workers -- to pay up compensation to nine surviving victims who were diagnosed of the disease in 2007.
A year after they were diagnosed of the disease while working in agate units in Godhra district of Gujarat, Vadodara-based People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC) helped victims of silicosis file a petition against ESIC for compensation (“disablement benefit” in legal terms).
As many as 15 persons agreed. Of these 15, for whom the petition was filed with the help of the NGO, six died before the judgment was delivered. Nine of them are now entitled to get the "disability benefit".
A PTRC note said, “For the rest of nine cases, the labour court passed order in their favour ordering ESIC to pay benefit to them starting with 2007.” Pointing out that the case was “built from scratch, as the victims did not know for themselves whether they were insured under the ESIC, under the ESI Act, as they did not have any evidence of employment”, PTRC said, “We filed several RTI applications to recover documentary evidence.”
Once the documentary evidence was obtained, the note said, the question arose whether the silicosis victims were “qualified”. It said, “Most workers did not have any evidence of working for minimum six months as required by law for getting compensation. But then we dug out an old resolution form ESIC Manual of 1992 that workers suffering from silicosis do not need to fulfill that condition.”
Khumsing Fata Kamol
Giving details of the judgment, PTRC said, “The ESIC lawyer argued that, as per legal provisions, disability has to be decided by the special medical board set up by the ESIC. The court did not accept the argument quoting a Gujarat High Court order which said disability benefit for silicosis patient should be cent per cent.”
Diagnosis was done by the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad, in all these cases, said PTRC, adding, the court also ordered ESIC to pay 7 per cent interest and Rs 1000 towards cost.
PTRC director Jagdish Patel told Counterview that ESIC will now have to “calculation on the amount to be paid”. He added, “Disability benefit is based on the wages being paid to workers. It is a little complicated process. It will be of interest to see whether the ESIC pays the amount after calculating it or decides to challenge the order.”
PTRC note said, “Silicosis in tens of quartz stone polishing factories in Godhra district has become a major problem. The Gujarat government itself has admitted that before the National Human Rights Commission that as many as 238 workers from Madhya Pradesh had died of silicosis in these factories.” It added, while there is evidence that large numbers die of silicosis in Gujarat’s stone crushing factories, no one gets compensation.
PTRC complained, “Despite efforts to provide identity cards to those working in the factories in stone crushing factories of Godhra district, no effort was made in this direction. Finally, as many as 15 workers agreed with a plea to file a petition with the labour court for compensation.”
The nine persons who survived and should get compensation are – Khumsing Fata Kamol, Kamila Fata Kamol, Magan Kheta Kamol, Lalsing Sadia, Veerising Joti, Jashwant Manji, Menaben Nandubhai, Soka Harji, and Subhash Soka.

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…