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Lives snuffed by Silicosis: Kin of 342 dead, 824 affected persons in MP stare into bleak future

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Silicosis  Supreme Court  compensation  Rehabilitation  Gujarat  Madhya Pradesh

Sravani Sarkar

Bhopal: Despite a Supreme Court that would soon bring monetary compensation to heirs of 247 tribal people killed by silicosis, at least 342 more families with dead kin and 824 ailing persons in remote villages of Jhabua, Alirajpur and Dhar districts are staring into a bleak future.

On May 4, the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to pay Rs 3 lakh compensation each to legal heirs of 247 persons who died of silicosis in these affected villages. With the Gujarat government already depositing the money with Madhya Pradesh counterparts, the families are likely to get the compensation soon.

The apex court also ordered the MP government to work for rehabilitation of 308 other silicosis hit patients, but any comprehensive plan is yet to be chalked.

Meanwhile however, NGOs working for the affected people have come out with a fresh report  (Destined to Die – Part 4) that shows that apart from the dead and affected listed in Supreme Court order, 324 more were killed by Silicosis and 824 more are seriously ailing. With their cases finding no reference in the legal proceedings yet, their future looks uncertain.

Silicosis is a health condition marked by inflammation and scarring of lungs due to prolonged exposure to fine silica dust. Serious respiratory trouble and reduced physical capabilities push the ailing people to quick deaths. The tribal people from the three abovementioned districts contracted the fatal disease while working in Quartz crushing factories in Balasinore and Godhra districts of Gujarat more than a decade ago.  

Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, MP, partner organisation in the study conducted by NGO Nai Shuruwat, told media persons on Saturday that the latest round of survey in 105 affected villages of the three districts show that total 1721 persons were affected by silicosis and of them 589 are dead. The last survey report by the organisations in 2011-12 had shown 1701 affected persons of whom 503 were dead.

“The latest report highlights that people are still succumbing to the disease while others are getting affected. We demand that the Gujarat Government should pay compensation to the additional death cases too while MP government should take the additional affected persons in ambit of social, medical and economic rehabilitation plan as and when it is implemented,” Nidhi said.


Some statistics related to the silicosis affected people is shocking

-          Of the 589 deaths reported, almost 66% in Jhabua, 53% in Alirajpur and 73% in Dhar are in age group of 19-35 years

-          Among the affected persons who have lost complete or partial capacity to work, 65% in Jhabua, 54% in Alirajpur and 60% in Dhar are in age group 19-35 years

-          Till now 41 children have died due to silicosis and another 144 are affected by it (they accompanied parents to work place)

-          There are 103 orphans who have lost their parents to silicosis

-          Only 19.7% affected families got some kind of pension (disability/widowhood/old age). None got pension of Rs 1500 per month as mentioned by MP Government in reply to SC

-          Only 21.2% families were granted housing under Indira Aawas Scheme and only 6% got both installments to build the houses

-          Only 7% got work under Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in 2011 and came down to only 0.7% in 2015