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Contempt? Silicosis deaths: Gujarat govt 'not executing' SC order on compensation


By Our Representative 

In a strongly-worded letter to the State chief secretary, senior health rights activist Jagdish Patel of the Peoples Training And Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, has accused the Gujarat government of continuing to ignore the Supreme Court order dated April 11, 2017, which asked all State governments, including that of Gujarat, to compensate to tune of Rs 3 lakh to the next of kin (NoK) of those who have died of sthe deadly occupational health disease silicosis.
Referring to the State government reply to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) dated dated August 18, 2017, four months after the Supreme Court order, Patel regrets, it only talks of “financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh” to the NoK of 61 persons who died of silicosis. Stating that things have still not changed, he calls it a clear contempt of the apex court order.
Stating that the State government has even refused to amend the labour department resolution of August 3, 2015 for paying just about Rs 1 lakh, the letter underlines, ironically, the state government “paid Rs 3 lakh to the migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh who worked in factories in Godhra and contracted silicosis”, bugt refused to do pay “the same amount to its own native workers”, insisting, it should should “correct the mistakes.”
The letter quotes the NHRC order dated December 21, 2017, in which the top Central body accused the State government of not making any “rehabilitation scheme for the persons who are suffering from silicosis and NoK of the persons who died of silicosis.” At the same time, the state government ignored NHRC recommendation to pay Rs 1 lakh in cash and another Rs 2 lakh as fixed deposit account in the name of NoK of the deceased person, it says.
Insisting that the state government should create a fund for welfare of agate workers in line with the one created by the Madhya Pradesh government for slate workers of Mandsaur, the letter says, the amount from the fund be should be used not just for “prevention, diagnosis, payment of compensation and rehabilitation of the silicosis patients” in Central Gujarat, especially in Khambhat area, where they are known to have been most affected.
According to the letter, there is a need to extend the compensation to other parts of Gujarat, where silicosis has been identified – including glass factories in Baroda and Vidyanagar, quartz crushing units in Godhra and Balasinor, foundries in Junagadh, Rajkot and Halol, ceramic units in Than and Morbi, refractory brick manufacturing in Wankaner, power plants in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad while handling of fly ash, and so on.

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