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

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.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”