JAIPUR: In what can be termed as a giant stride towards compensating people afflicted with silicosis in the state, about 19 persons were given an amount of Rs 1 lakh each in Jodhpur by the district collector. This is for the first time that people who are alive but are afflicted with the disease were compensated.

According to Rana Sengupta of the Mine Labor Protection Campaign (MLPC), “These persons had been tested positive for silicosis by the pneumoconiosis board. Following which the environment board gave a sum of Rs 25 lakh to the district that was distributed to the victims on Tuesday.”

Silicosis is an occupational disease that has taken the lives of millions of impoverished mine workers in Rajasthan. MLPC has been advocating for their justice since 2010 when it found that 987 cases of Silicosis were registered at the KN Chest Hospital Jodhpur. Subsequently 93 more were diagnosed with Silicosis in Karauli district.

MLPC has been literally fighting a battle to help mine labourers afflicted with silicosis get compensation from the state government. MLPC also revived the pneumoconiosis board that was lying defunct for the last 20 years. It created a system so that those suffering from occupational diseases like silicosis and asbestosis would be diagnosed by the board and then referred to the concerned district administration for payment of relief amount of Rs 1 lakh.

“Since the labourers had no proof of employment like employment certificate, identity card or provident fund certificate, it was difficult to compensate them under the Workman’s Compensation Act,” he says.

However, later an order by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ensured that these people were compensated.

MLPC again took up the matter with the state government saying that if dead people can be compensated then why not those who are alive and afflicted with the disease. “Those who were compensated on Tuesday are the beneficiaries of the state acknowledging our argument,” Sengupta said.

Courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA

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