Skip to main content

Gujarat's Khambhat region is silicosis epidemic hit, pay an extra Rs 3 lakh to victims: NHRC to state govt

By Our Representative
In a major victory for the Vadodara-based advocacy group, People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has observed that the records presented to it regarding agate industry suggest the Gujarat government has "accepted that there has been epidemic menace of silicosis in the Khambhat region... and the adjoining regions."
Agreeing with the PTRC survey, based on medical examination of agate workers, that 157 out of 415 persons, who had caught silicosis, died because of the fatal disease, NHRC said in its order to the Gujarat chief secretary, the "menace" had been traced in 1961, and was "confirmed" by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) in 1980, 2002 and 2010.
Pointing out that the state government has paid Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin (NOK) of 65 persons who died because silicosis, which is also a recognition of the epidemic nature of the disease, NHRC said, the amount is too meagre, and another Rs 3 lakh should be paid as compensation -- Rs 1 lakh in cash and Rs 2 lakh as fixed deposit.
NHRC said, while the complainant, Jagdish Patel of PTRC, has contended that the menace of silicosis "is frequent in Jambusar taluka of Bharuch district of Gujarat", it regretted, "The state government has neither conducted any survey nor come out with any action taken report on the menace, in the area." Asking the state government to "revise its schemes for monetary relief to agate workers", it asked the state government to be "human rights sensitive."
Jagdish Patel
Providing a five-point action plan to be implemented in the agate factories by applying on them "provisions in Factories Act" to take care of "health and safety measures for poor labourers", NHRC lamented, "The state government has not made any rehabilitation scheme for the persons who are suffering from silicosis and NOK of the persons who died of silicosis".
Noting that the the state government has "failed to register registerable units under the Factories Act and has not taken any steps as per recommendation of the NHRC team to formulate a comprehensive policy to regulate functioning of agate units", NHRC said, it has also failed to "address problems of agate workers in the light of the Supreme Court Judgement in the matter of PM Patel & Sons Vs Union of India (1986)."
"The state government instead of implementing the directions of the Supreme Court has argued that they do not want to implement/introduce provident fund (PF) in agate industries", NHRC said, adding, "Agate units are factories under the notification of state government dated November 29, 2008" and are covered under Section 85 of Factories Act."
Arguing that labour laws should apply, NHRC said, other laws which should apply on them include the Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, Equal Remuneration Act, Bonus Act, Employees State Insurance Act (ESI) Act etc., adding, there should also be "regulation of hours of remuneration and health and safety measures as provided in the Factories Act."
Asking the state government should "stop work of agate cutting and polishing in residential areas completely, in the line of slate industry in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, NHRC said, a "welfare board for the welfare of agate workers" should be set up by "levying cess on production, sale and export of agate", as done by the Madhya Pradesh government with regard to the slate industries in Mandsaur.
Other recommendations include "prohibition of electricity connection in residential areas for commercial purposes, especially for agate polishing", making it mandatory for the agate industry to get environmental clearance before starting work, to b "monitored on a continuous basis by the State Pollution Control Board, after they commence manufacturing", and "fixation of piece rates by the state for agate workers which at present are decided arbitrarily by the traders".

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.

Amidst Modi celebrations, thousands protest 'massive' submergence in Narmada Valley

By Our Representative
Thousands of women and men gathered on at the Shaheed Stambh in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, to raise their voice against what they called "the destruction of the Narmada Valley", protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat BJP rulers for celebrating the Sardar Sarovar dam being filled up to the full reservoir level (FRL) on September 17, which also happens to be Modi's birthday.
Calling it a black day for the people of the Valley, whose villages and farms got submerged because of highest-ever water level having been achieved in the dam, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organised the parallel rally across the border with Gujarat, regretted in a statement that Modi's celebration at the dam took place amidst " martyrdom of the Valley".
The demonstration in Badwani was preceded by a vehicles rally, which took rounds of the city streets. They were joined by people from several villages of Dhar district. They gather…

Narmada valley: SC notice to Gujarat, MP, M'rashtra on submergence sans rehabilitation

By Our Representative
Thr Supreme Court has issued notice to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments following a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)-backed petition seeking the explanation as to whether large areas of Narmada Valley have gone into submergence by filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) without rehabilitating the project affected families (PAFs).