Rajasthan: 22,000 Quarry Workers Have Silicosis, BJP Govt Turns a Blind Eye
The workers, who do not receive the compensation they are entitled to, demand this to be made an election issue.
About 22,000 workers engaged in quarrying operations in Rajasthan are reportedly suffering from silicosis — a lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust containing silica. Despite their suffering and their patient wait for compensation, however, the government has turned a blind eye to the workers’ problems. The quarry workers suffering from silicosis want the matter to be taken up as a core election issue ahead of the assembly elections in the state.
The Quint reported the quarry workers are entitled to Rs one lakh as compensation, as per the directives of the Supreme Court. If a worker dies due to silicosis, then, as per SC orders, his family is entitled to receive Rs three lakhs as monetary compensation. However, monetary assurances are not what the workers want discussed at length.
Speaking to Quint, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan activist Nikhil De said that the subject needed to be an electoral issue as the silicosis-affected workers have been left to fend for themselves. Adding that the workers needed to be compensated by the quarrying companies, De said, “…In reality, compensation ought to be paid (to the workers) by the quarrying companies which make a lot of money. However, this does not happen because the workers’ names are not mentioned in any documents. Since most of the quarrying activities are illegal in India, workers’ names are not mentioned in any (legal) documents.”
Adding that there was no other work to be taken up in Bhilwara except quarrying which, in turn, led to the disease, quarry worker Ram Singh — who suffers from silicosis — told The Quint, “Whoever wins (the election), whoever forms the government, why are they helping the rich?… Help the poor, like me, instead. In Bhilwara Zila in Rajasthan, there is no other option for work except stone-cutting and quarrying. Everyone in Bhilwara is engaged in quarrying. Everyone is suffering from the same disease here. Therefore, the government has to ensure that the people receive help. Whoever forms the government, they have to help (the workers). God will listen to them more, then.”