Skip to main content

With two more silicosis deaths, toll reaches 20: Gujarat govt in “no hurry” to prevent disease, implement NHRC plea

Naresh M Rathod, Rafik Husen Malek
By Jagdish Patel*
With the death of two more agate workers due to silicosis, Rafik Husen Malek (43) and Naresh M Rathod (42), the toll because of the deadly occupational disease in Gujarat has reached 20 this year. Both were residents of Shakarpur, Khambhat taluka of Central Gujarat. Last year, 25 deaths took place as a result of silicosis.
Naresh started working at very a tender age, and later set up his own unit, which he ran for over 25 years. For the last three years, he was feeling sick and closed shop. He was bed ridden the last six months. As for Rafik, he worked as “bankda” worker at his home.
Naresh has left behind him two daughters and two son and wife Dharmishtha. Rafik has five daughters, youngest one being six, while the eldest, Amrinbanu, is 18. He is survived by his wife Farhadbanu and daughters.
Last June, the National Human RIghts Commission (NHRC) sent its high-level team for spot inquiry. Team spent a week in Khamabhat and held meetings with Government officials, traders, manufacturers, workers, silicosis victims and NGO representatives.
The committee, which submitted its report to the NHRC, recommended, in the main, that for the need to formulate a comprehensive policy to regulate functioning of agate units in order to address the problems of agate workers in general and in the light of Supreme Court judgement in the matter of PM Patel & Sons vs Union of India and Ors [1986-(001)-LLJ-0088-Supreme Court and 1986-(001)-SCC-0032-SC].
Bed-ridden Naresh
The committee sought the need to identify all the victims of silicosis, issue identity cards to them, sanction interim relief in deserving cases, extend proper treatment to those who are suffering from silicosis/ pneumoconiosis, alternative employment and rehabilitation to all such ailing persons.
It also insisted on need to compensate the next of the kin of the deceased, who died of silicosis/silica-tuberculosis while working in agate units.
Further, it sought updating of the number of factories functional in agate business and ensure minimum wages, provident fund, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme, etc. to the workers.
The committee insisted on the need to implement the Gujarat High Court guidelines on Special Civil Application No.4793 of 1998 (Suo Motu ss. State of Gujarat) and notification of Government of Gujarat dated December 26, 2014 under section 87 referred to with Section 85 of the Factory Act, 1948 in letter and spirit.
The NHRC sent the copy of the report to the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat, f comments in November last.
The Government of Gujarat passed a resolution to pay relief of Rs 1 lakh to the next of the kin of the workers dying of silicosis. In all 95 families had applied, out of which 20 were paid the amount in June last. Since then, no one has been paid the amount and applicants are waiting for their turn to receive the amount.
Since 2006, 137 – 108 male and 29 female – workers have died. Many could not apply for want of legal heir, as required by the rules framed. The People Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, has represented with the Government of Gujarat to consider such cases sympathetically.
---
*Senior activist with PTRC, Vadodara

Comments

TRENDING

Importance of Bangladesh for India amidst 'growing might' of China in South Asia

By Samara Ashrat*  The basic key factor behind the geopolitical importance of Bangladesh is its geographical location. The country shares land borders with Myanmar and India. Due to its geographical position, Bangladesh is a natural link between South Asia and Southeast Asia.  The country is also a vital geopolitical ally to India, in that it has the potential to facilitate greater integration between Northeast India and Mainland India. Not only that, due to its open access to the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh has become significant to both China and the US.

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.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

'BBC film shows only tip of iceberg': Sanjiv Bhatt's daughter speaks at top US press club

By Our Representative   The United States' premier journalists' organisation, the National Press Club (NPC), has come down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for recent "attacks on journalists in India." Speaking at the screening of an episode of the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question,” banned in India, in the club premises, NPC President Eileen O’Reilly said, “Since Modi came to power we have watched with frustration and disappointment as his regime has suppressed the rights of its citizens to a free and independent news media."

Chinese pressure? Left stateless, Rohingya crisis result of Myanmar citizenship law

By Dr Shakuntala Bhabani*  A 22-member team of Myanmar immigration officials visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar to verify more than 400 Rohingya refugees as part of a pilot repatriation project. Does it hold out any hope for the forcibly displaced people to return to their ancestral homes in the Rakhine state of Myanmar? Only time will tell.

China ties up with India, Bangladesh to repatriate Rohingyas; Myanmar unwilling

By Harunur Rasid*  We now have a new hope, thanks to news reports that were published in the Bangladeshi dailies recently. Myanmar has suddenly taken initiatives to repatriate Rohingyas. As part of this initiative, diplomats from eight countries posted in Yangon were flown to Rakhine last week. Among them were diplomats from Bangladesh, India and China.

Natural farming: Hamirpur leads the way to 'huge improvement' in nutrition, livelihood

By Bharat Dogra*  Santosh is a dedicated farmer who along with his wife Chunni Devi worked very hard in recent months to convert a small patch of unproductive land into a lush green, multi-layer vegetable garden. This has ensured year-round supply of organically grown vegetables to his family as well as fetched several thousand rupees in cash sales.

Over-stressed? As Naveen Patnaik turns frail, Odisha 'moves closer' to leadership crisis

By Sudhansu R Das  Not a single leader in Odisha is visible in the horizon who can replace Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He has ruled Odisha for nearly two and half decades. His father, Biju Patnaik, had built Odisha; he was a daring pilot who saved the life of Indonesia’s Prime Minister Sjahrir and President Sukarno when the Dutch army blocked their exit.

Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Ban Ki-moon, others ask Bangladesh PM to 'protect' Yunus

Counterview Desk  A campaign has been launched to support Bangladesh-based economist, micro-finance guru and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, seeking signatures from citizens across the globe in order to “protect” his work, life and safety.

Electricity sharing opens up new window for India’s eastern neighbourhood engagement

By Sufian Asif* Today, challenges like climate change, pandemics, energy reliance, economic crisis, and many more are concerning us. No nation can overcome these obstacles without the assistance and collaboration of other nations. Most importantly, many of these problems have international repercussions. South Asia is facing much more difficulty when compared to other regions. In South Asia, we have some regional organizations, but they are ineffective.