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

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

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.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja  By Our Representative  A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.