Skip to main content

Gujarat govt's anti-pollution watchdog GPCB doesn't consider agate industry hazardous, has no data: NHRC

By Rajiv Shah
In a shocking revelation, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has found that the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), the state government’s powerful anti-pollution watchdog, does not consider agate industry hazardous . It regrets, “As such, GPCB is not having any data regarding omission of silica dust in agate work.”
The report –based on an NHRC team’s spot inquiry last year, acting five years after a complaint filed by Jagdish Patel, a well-known social activist working among agate workers for several decades – says, “No pollution check has been carried out by the GPCB in the premises of agate factories/units.”
The team, which took along with it staff of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to examine the extent of pollution caused by the agate industry in Khambhat taluka of Anand district, says that during a visit to one of the agate registered units, “there was an attempt to wash rooms and roofs where drums had been kept for crushing the agates.”
“Even after washing the rooms including roofs etc., there was enough silica dust present in those rooms. NHRC team themselves witnessed lot of dust despite the cleanings done”, the report, a copy of which is with Counterview, says.
The report, citing the MPCB staff, said the latter conducted air pollution level at one of the factory premises during heavy rain, yet it was found that the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) levels in the agate units were “almost five times higher than the permissible limit.”
The report says, in official records, provided by the assistant labour commissioner, there are total 13 registered agate units in Khambhat, which were not functioning on government record, and three were functioning. Of the three, license one nit had expired and had not been renewed.
Jagdish Patel
However, it says, “There are many unauthorized agate units, including home-based agate units in Khambhat. There are many home based agate units functioning in residential areas.”
It insists, "Contrary to the claim of the deputy secretary, Government of Gujarat, labour and employment department that no agate unit is situated surrounding the residences the workers, these home based agate units are located in populous areas, which poses health hazard to nearby residents as well as workers themselves.”
The report says, the official data made available to the NHRC team by the district tuberculosis (TB) officer “confirmed” only 10 silicosis death and 38 silicosis TB death cases reported during the last 10 years. It underlines, “However, data of the complainant (Jagdish Patel) reveals that there are 124 deaths due to silicosis and 133 patients suffering from silicosis since 2007.”
Pointing towards lack of qualified doctors in government hospitals, the report says, “Out of the total sanctioned posts of 9 MBBS medical Officers, two posts were vacant”; and out of the total sanctioned posts of nine Ayush (ayurvedic, yunani and other alternative medical systems) medical officers, four posts were vacant.”
The report says, while the district administration of Anand did organize “special medical camps to treat the patients of silicosis disease in 2013-14”, yet “there is no special drive to curb the free respirable silica particles at the manufacturing sites.”
The report, which runs into 48 pages, regrets, though 20 next of kin (NoK) were given Rs 1 lakh each as financial assistance for their death due to silicosis, “No grant of compensation has been given to the patients of silicosis/silico TB disease.”
Worse, the report says, “There is no government scheme for rehabilitation of affected agate workers due to silicosis or their family members. Due to silicosis deaths in a family, living condition of people are miserable. The NoK of the deceased and silicosis patient are illiterate, they are not capable of filling papers for getting any government benefits.”

Comments

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”