Skip to main content

84 fatal accidents, 114 deaths in three years in textile units in Surat, Gujarat: Study supported by German inst

By Rajiv Shah
While a lot is known about fatal accidents caused in Gujarat’s premier shipbreaking yard at Alang because of lack of occupational safety, a yet-to-be-published study “Labour Conditions in Surat Textile Industry", supported by Bonn-based Südwind Institute for Economics and Ecumenism, is all set to create a flutter. It has estimated that, in the last three years, 84 fatal accidents have been reported in registered textile processing units in Surat, in which 114 workers died.
Based on a Right to Information (RTI) replies to a query filed in 2016, the data supplied by the Directorate Industrial Safety and Health, Gujarat, further suggest that as many as 375 workers were seriously injured in accidents in these units.
Authored by Jagdish Patel of the People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), a Vadodara-based advocacy group focused on occupational health, the study says these data do no provide a complete picture as “a large number of units are not registered.”
A scan through the newspaper clippings by PTRC also suggested that “121 workers died and 126 injured in the textile industry in Surat during 2012-15”, the study says. “Most news of injury at work does not reach the newspapers and people at large” since a large number of units “are not registered”, it adds.
Suggesting that there appears to be little awareness about the need to fight the such high accidents, which have continued over the years, and yet the officialdom has remained indifferent, the study says that during 1991-95 as many as 100 fatal accidents took place in Surat. Then, in 2007 and 2008, the study adds, 46 and 36 accidents respectively were reported in Surat.
“These figures speak of the occupational health and safety situation in the textile factories in Surat”, the study says. An analysis of the reasons behind the accidents by it suggests that between 2012 and 2015, of the 121 fatal accidents, 30 took place because of burns, followed by electrocution (27), and what has been called “crushed between two surfaces” (23).
Other reasons for deaths reported include asphyxiation, fall from height, fire and explosion, mechanical injury, gassed, and so on. Giving the example of how these accidents become fatal because of the very nature of the factories, the study quotes the instance of a power loom unit on Ashvini Kumar Road in Surat located in Suryapur Industrial Estate caught fire on October 3, 2015 at 11:45 am.
During the accident except one worker on the second floor -- Nila Nayaka (45) and a male worker -- Krishna Limja (65) on the third floor, all the others could come out safely. The fire brigade rescued the two, but the woman died of asphyxiation.
The study explains, “The fire started on the second floor and spread to the third floor. Machines had been arranged without leaving much distance between two machines and this congested the walkways. Raw material and finished products were also stored on walkways. There were 20 workers in the unit. Workers on the ground floor could get out but workers on the second and third floors were trapped.”
Pointing out that in most cases those who die or are injured are not adequately compensated, the study quotes the instance of one Ajay Raju Yadav, 18, who met with an accident at work in June 2011. Yadav was employed in an embroidery unit. His left hand got entangled in the nip of the roll of the press machine while charging the machine with ladies dress material. Three of his fingers got amputated and the fourth is almost dead.
“A medical expert assessed his disability to be 47%. He was not compensated. The unit was covered under the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Act but the particular worker was not issued identity card under the Act”, the study says.
It was only after a long drawn out battle, carried out by a textile workers’ association, a local court passed an order in May 2013 to pay Rs.2,88,685 towards compensation with interest at the rate of 9% (Rs 86,605) as penalty, and Rs1,000 as cost of the claim. This made the employer to fire the worker. A hearing on the the case continues till date.

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
Frankly, the fact that the workers are not protected does not surprise me. I have seen men and women working on building and road construction sites without any protection. Stories of civic workers contracting fatal diseases or dying while working in the gutters abound. Every time there is a hue and cry for a while (with politicians in opposition crying loudest) and then everything dies down.

What surprises me is that this is happening in Modi's Gujarat. What was he doing while he was CM?

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

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…