Skip to main content

US supply chain told to be wary of fatal impact of Indian agate industry on workers

By Our Representative
A high level conference in Chicago has seen a strong appeal to the Government of India to promote safer technology among stone cutters in India and better occupational health standards in India’s jewellery business by developing better inspection standards. The appeal came after a senior Gujarat-based health rights activist, Jagdish Patel, made a presentation on the state of agate stone cutting industry in Khambhat in Gujarat and Jaipur in Rajasthan.
Patel, who sought support for efforts from non-profits for the welfare of India’s stone cutters, told Jo Becker of the Human Rights Watch during a one-to-one interaction session that though a large number of agate stone cutting workers were involved, which led to fatal disease silicosis, that “it is not possible to tell the numbers of workers involved in the industry who are at risk.”
“Silica dust at Khambhat is an environmental hazard and there are cases of silicosis reported among non-workers, too. Of late, the country’s pollution control board has started putting pressure on employers, and some factories have started taking some actions to turn their operations from dry to wet, which has improved the situation somewhat, but more needs to be done”, Patel said.
Answering questions from Becker, who, among other issues, specifically wanted to know what could the jewellery industry in the US should do alleviate the situation in India, Patel said, the wet method and local exhaust ventilation system can reduce the dust levels of silica.
“The buyers, who export their products, should ask the suppliers to provide them the report of dust monitoring at their shop and list of workers and also those who have had silicosis”, he insisted.
More than 1,400 plus cases were screened, and of these 450 were found to be suffering from deadly silicosis
One of the 40-odd experts who addressed the Responsible Jewellery conference in Chicago, held on October 25-26, Patel, who is also a chemical engineer, said, his organization, People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), in collaboration with the Sri Krishna Hospital, Karamsad, and the Cardiac Care Hospital, Khambhat, runs out patient departments for the 10 years, where more than 1,400 plus cases were screened, and of these 450 were found to be suffering from deadly silicosis.
This data, Patel told the Chicago conference, was sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which in turn sent its investigation team to Khambhat. Based on the report submitted by the team, NHRC recommended some relief measures to silicosis victims, many of which “are yet to be enforced.”
An international conference, it was organized against the backdrop of realization among American health rights activists that the jewellery industry doesn't have a stellar record of getting out in front of social criticism, with some suggesting the need to replace "dirty" jewellery production processes with clean ones, while others using responsible approaches in marketing jewellery.
Becker, who spoke to Patel on his experience in helping gem cutters who live in poverty and suffer from silicosis, has been researching on gold and diamond mining. She has come up the report, “The Hidden Cost of Jewelry”, which focuses on child labour in mining and other industries in different countries.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.