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

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

As fear 'grips' right liberals, Arvind Panagariya, too, would be declared anti-national?

By Rajiv Shah
It is surely well-known by now that India's top people in the power-that-be have been castigating all those who disagree with them as "anti-nationals". Nothing unusual. If till yesterday only "secular liberals", and "left-liberals" were declared anti-national, facts, however, appear to have begun surfacing that, now, guns are being trained against those who could be qualified as right liberals, too. Let me be specific.

Indian Muslims' position being 'undermined' by new nationalism gripping the country

By Moin Qazi*
Muslims are the second-largest demographic of India, with nearly 14 per cent of the country’s population, or roughly 172 million people, but they are so marginalised that their presence in important public spheres is almost invisible. Most of them are poor, semi-literate and driven into ghettos.

Australia's centre-right govt 'wakes up' to Islamophobia, swears by multicultural legacy

By Neeraj Nanda*
In an interesting turn, the federal government in Australia, which is led by the centre-right Liberal Party, has slammed incidents of Islamophobia gripping the country, calling them ‘completely unacceptable’. A media statement from David Coleman, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, has referred to a report released by the Charles Sturt University to point towards the danger.

National award winning film 'Hellaro' co-produced by three chartered accountants

By Our Representative
“Hellaro”, a Gujarati feature film produced by Saarthi Productions in association with Harfanmaula Films (Ahmedabad) was declared as the Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards which was conferred by the Government of India. The film also won the Special Jury Award for the Best Actress to all the 13 actresses of the film.
Ashish Patel produced the movie, which has been co-produced three co-producers, Aayush Patel, Prateek Gupta and Mit Jani, all of whom, interestingly, started their filmmaking journey after becoming Chartered Accountants in 2012.
“Hellaro” is directed by Abhishek Shah, who has been working in Gujarati theatre since the past 17 years as writer, director and actor and has received numerous awards for his plays. He has also worked as a casting director for 12 films.
“Hellaro” is a period drama based in Kutch and has been co-written by Abhishek Shah and Prateek Gupta. Gupta previously received the Best Debut Director Award, along with Mit Jan…

Ahmedabad students sign huge banner in support of JNU anti-fee campaign

By Our Representative
A left-wing students' union in Gujarat went in for a massive signature campaign in Ahmedabad in support of the anti-fee hike movement of Jawharlal Nehru University (JNU) students. The All-India Democratic Students' Organisation (AIDSO) organised the campaign near the main gate of the historic Gujarat College, whose students had made a major mark during Independence movement.