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Silicosis Deaths in India

My-India.Net: India Forum: India Health & Fitness: Silicosis Deaths in India

By aka0 on Thursday, August 16, 2007 - 01:40 pm: Edit Post

This at first glance looks like an ideal forum for spreading Silicois awareness. According to some studies, silicosis, one of the oldest occupational disease, still kills thousands. A person joining stone cutting or mining knows that he is going to be infected, but often has no choice. Obviously, most of the workers belong to lower income groups. This might as well be the reason of government and public apathy. There are whole villages in Lalkuan region of Delhi affected by this disease. Even a new child born here will get infected sooner rather than later in his life. What have we done about this? Have we demanded compensation for those affected? More importantly, have we demanded creation of alternate jobs for these people? What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for more people to die, more people to become infected before someone will do a la Julia Roberts in Erin Brokovich? Had this been the state of affairs in a remote north east village, we could probably have overlooked it, had it been Bihar or East UP, we could have easily bypassed it, like we do everything. But this is Delhi! And no Michael Pandey has bothered to make so much as a two minute documentary on this. Is it so because poor in India are anyways treated like filth, and a few thousand less wont make a difference? We made such hue and cry about Gujarat riots (and rightly so), why cant we wake up to the plight of a few thousand poor villages in national Capital?
Where is the human face of reforms? When is it going to reach LalKuan in Delhi? Is their a light at the end of this dark journey for these people, or even their next generations? I would like everyone to contribute in their own small ways. We have filed a petition in Delhi high court and are going to run an online signature campaign help
us in spreading awareness about this deadly disease.
Arun, Rohit, Manish

By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, August 16, 2007 - 01:44 pm: Edit Post

In Delhi's Lalkuan area workers are affected by this deadly disease, Silicosis due to exposure while stone-cutting. There have been others who have already succumbed to this disease. Since these workers are contract workers, they were not covered under the Employees State Insurance (ESI) scheme and have been denied compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923.

Stone-cutting had gone on in Lalkuan for more than 35 years till the Supreme Court of India ordered for the removal or dislocation of the crushers in early 1990s. “Hundreds of stone-crushers were causing serious cough and respiratory diseases including tuberculosis among several thousands of people in the Tughlakabad area of New Delhi,” says Professor T. Shivaji Rao, Director, Centre for Environmental Studies, Gitam Engineering College, Visakhapatnam.

As a result of Supreme Court public interest litigation, several hundred stone quarries were ordered to be shifted to other safer places outside New Delhi by the Supreme Court. It defies understanding how a shift of stonecrushers to safer places makes it safe. These crushers have been shifted to Haryana, where a similar situation is bound to occur sooner or later.

Hundreds of stone-cutters in Lalkuan, who were involved in stone-cutting to cater to the needs of infrastructure development of the city in the early 1990s, suffer from silicosis.

Although the Supreme court order held, "We would therefore hold that where an enterprise is engaged in a hazardous or inherently dangerous activity and harm results to anyone on account of an accident in the operation of such activity..., the enterprise is strictly and absolutely liable to compensate all those who are affected...,“ this has so far been not applied to silicosis and asbestos victims in practice. Even records for these occupational diseases are not maintained. The plight is best understood from the fact that there are only 4 factory inspectors for
of Delhi. These victims have so far been treated as T.B patients.

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