Skip to main content

Gujarat government "indifference" towards deadly asbestosis: State RTI watchdog castigates govt industries department

By Our Representative
Documents released by Gujarat's senior activists suggest that the state government, claiming to be No 1 in industrial investment, has remained highly indifferent to a major occupational diseases. The documents show that the has has not only not cared to take cognisance of the workers who suffer from the deadly asbestosis. Worse, it has refused to provide basic information on right to information (RTI) pleas seeking details of those who suffer from it.
Released by Occupational Health and Safety Association's (OSHA's) Raghunath Manwar, and People's Training and Research Centre's (PTRC's) Jagdish Patel, one of them is an order dated April 4, 2015, Gujarat's chief information commissioner Balwant Singh, who has castigated the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH), Gujarat, for refusing to part with basic information concerning the safety and health of the labourers working in an industrial unit which uses asbestos as a raw material.
Singh says in the order, the state official concerned has been persistently reluctant in providing information. This raises the suspicion that "the authorities are deliberately not disclosing the information relating to the concerned industrial unit which apparently is not taking sufficient measures for the safety and health of the labourers."
While Gujarat's chief information commissioner imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the official who did not provide the information, the activists suggested, this is not an isolated case of official indifference towards asbestosis. 
A separate factsheet released by them, on the basis of separate RTI pleas with DISH, showed that none of the workers working in 40-odd industrial units working with asbestos, for which the data was sought, had been covered under the Employees' State Insurance Scheme (ESIS) to take care of the workers' health.
The factsheet dotted down the type of products these units want the workers to deal with -- gasket joint, gasket cloth, fire blanket asbestos, gland packaging, asbestos rope, asbestos roof sheets, asbestos cement pipes, and so on. 
A scan through the sheet suggests that they work in or around Gujarat's business capital, Ahmedabad's areas such as Ambavadi, Vadsar, Ranip, Odhav and Sanand; along the Jambusar-Vadodara Highway, Panoli and Vadodara proper in Central Gujarat; in Surat district; and at several places in Kutch district.
The activists pointed out, the Gujarat government "no information at any level about the number of workers who have so far suffered from asbestosis." Demanding an immediate ban to asbestos, which is imported from Russia, Brazil and Kazakhstan, the activists added tha while its use has gone up drastically in the country -- from 2.83 lakh tonnes in 2007 to 4.15 lakh tonnes in 2011 -- the activists said, "There is no data about its use in Gujarat."
They said, "To RTI queries, the state government merely provided details of just 657 workers working in small units and another 1,470 workers in big units working in industries where asbestosis is used in some form."
Wanting the Government of India to take steps to sign international convention to ban asbestos, known as Rotterdam convention, the activists regretted that the Centre, instead of relying on existing facts about asbestos, has wished to "study" the adverse impact of asbestos. 
Quoting expert studies, they insisted, "Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis)."
Giving details of the malignant mesothelioma, commonly develops in the lungs of people exposed to asbestos, the activists said, an RTI plea to the Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute, operating under state supervision, showed that as many as 108 have suffered from this extreme form of asbestosis. 
"The the institute refused to provide information of patients invoking specific clauses of the RTI law which disallows personal details", the activists said, adding, in their view, "the numbers should be much higher."

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

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.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”