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

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

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".

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was a 'frustrated' reformer who turned into a conservative

By Bhaskar Sur "If someone says the Manusamhita was written by all wise Manu and the principal scripture of the land and if he asks me to throw it away, I'll say it is nothing short of atrocious audacity." -- Iswarchandra Vidyasagar

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.