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The killer factory

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Sir jee, our whole khandan has been decimated and their children have been made beggars by this killer factory,” said Khalid Hunjra, the thirty five year old last male survivor of the Hunjra family, whose elder brothers Tahir and Qaisar died two and four years ago respectively, after fighting long and painful battles with a mysterious and incurable lung disease. “Five young men from our extended family, including my two elder brothers, and six others from our village Nut Kallar, have been killed by this factory. An old beggar woman used to beg us to stop working in the factory. She would narrate a story of death of her six young sons, who all died due to working in that factory. We thought she was crazy, so we never took her seriously.”
A visit to Khalid Hanjra’s small village Nutt Kallar, thirty kilometers east of Gujranwala city and interviews with the present and ex-workers of stone-crushing factory not only confirmed the death of 11 people from his village but also revealed deaths of two more people from an adjoining village. Khalid and his kin members worked in one of dozens of stone crushing factories in the Pindi Bypass and Lohianwlaa Bypass areas of Gujranwala. They worked at Ashraf Ansari’s factory located at Samanabad Choongi, Lohian-wala-Bypass.
Their work at the factory entailed feeding large stones to the grinding machine for breaking them down into a powdered form. The workers then mixed the white powder (silica) with another poisonous powder, i.e. boric acid, and then packed the mixture with hands and shovels into bags for distribution. In this process, due to absence of dust control mechanism, shoveling of powdered silica with boric acid raises a massive dust storm and the laborers are forced to inhale the deadly mixture of silica and boric acid. Apart from the harmful effects of the silica dust clouds on the health of the factory workers, the environment is also adversely affected – this is evident from the conditions of the working sites at such factories where even the surrounding trees are smothered and coated with a film of silica dust. Read more

Courtesy: The Nation

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Silicosis deaths: Gujarat govt indifference forces NGO to write to chief secretary to implement NHRC order

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By Our Representative
In a clear case of “indifference”, the Gujarat government has ignored a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) advice, sent in the form of a “recommendation”, to pay up Rs 5 lakh each to five workers who had died of the deadly silicosis disease about three years ago. The state-based NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, in a statement, said the NHRC had acted on its complaint in 2011 and arrived at the conclusion that the Gujarat government had failed to ensure safety standards in stone cutting units, operating in Godhra, Gujarat, where these workers were employed, but as it has refused to act within six weeks, given by the NHRC, making PTRC to write a letter to Gujarat chief secretary Varesh Sinha to enforce NHRC recommendation.

Asking Sinha to “enforce the recommendation and arrange to pay Rs 5 lakh to each of the five families who lost their bread earner due to silicosis, a fatal occupational disease”, the PTRC said, it had filed “the complaint No 1012 in 2011 in which it was said that the victims worked in quartz crushing units in Godhra where they were exposed to fine silica dust for a long period causing Silicosis. During hearing, the Government of Gujarat gave replies with which the NHRC was not impressed. This led the NHRC to issue show-cause notice to the state government. In its final verdict the NHRC noted that the state government has failed in its duty to protect health and life of the workers which led the deaths. Hence state cannot evade its responsibility to pay compensation.” Read more

Courtesy: counterview

Dust is what we eat and breathe

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KABRAI (MAHOBA): Haze is all one can see beyond 60 metres in Kabrai, a pocket of legal and illegal stone mining in Bundelkhand. The visibility reduces to zero when a stone crusher unit starts working. Green trees have grayed and concrete link roads are padded with an inch-deep layer of dust. Dust particles which get stirred each time a heavy vehicle passes through are a part of the life of people living in the mining ‘infested’ districts in Bundelkhand area of UP. The nuisance is a clear invitation to silicosis, a major risk factor to tuberculosis (TB). TOI, with the help of The Union fellowship, brings a spot report.

* ‘Dust kills us, it is what we breathe and eat’: Vimla Devi owns a farm right opposite Badhwa area of Kabrai in Mahoba. She is so sick of dust that she didn’t work in a mine or crushing unit despite getting an offer. “I am happy with my identity as a farmer,” she says. But the problem of dust is making her think about migration. “Dust is a huge problem for all of us. It is what we eat and breathe. And we cannot do anything about it. So we are thinking of going to some other place,” she rues. Not just Vimla, those living in the villages around these crushers are tired of the dust. “Dust kills most of us. I know of many people who have died coughing because of dust,” says Uma Shankar, former village pradhan of Dharrara Village – a hamlet of around 3000 people living in a place surrounded by some 40 crusher units. Doctors say that it is natural for people surrounded by so much of dust to cough all the time. This has two implications in context of health. “People tend to ignore early signs of TB which is prolonged cough for more than three weeks. Secondly, the dust particles which settle in their lungs make their lungs quite weak. The combined effect is that when a villager goes t o see a doctor, there’s hardly any time left for intervention,” said a government doctor. Read more

Courtesy: Times of India

Jharkhand mine blast kills three women

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Ranchi: Three women were killed in a blast that occurred during the course of open cast mining being carried out at a hill in Pakur district of Jharkhand on Thursday.

According to the police, some more laboureres were also working at the mining site at the time of the blast carried out for the mining purpose in which other were also burried under the rubble. The mining activity was being carried out illegally, said he police who are on the look out of the owner of the mine who is absconding following the incident.

The incident took place near Arjundaha village of Pakur district, around 500 km from state capital Ranchi.

Police sources said more than 150 stone mines are operating illegally in Pakur. Stone extracted from here is supplied to stone crushers for making chips used in building construction, said the police.

Courtesy: indileak

In a first, 14 asbestosis victims get 1L cheques

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Jaipur: Efforts of the Mine Labour Protection Campaign Trust (MLPC) finally benefitted victims of asbestosis victims on Friday when 14 of them were handed over a cheque of Rs one lakh each by the state government as compensation.

MLPC has been fighting for justice since 2007 and after three examinations by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) with intervention of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) besides confirmation of asbestosis among the former asbestos mine workers, Friday was a day to celebrate.

The state has also said those found to be suffering from any of these diseases will be given a relief amount of Rs1 lakh each. Those who have already succumbed to the disease, their widows will be given a relief amount of Rs 3lakh each. Of the 18 victims, one died waiting for the Pneumoconiosis Board to be set up, while one missed the re-exam. This is the first time in the country when asbestosis victims were given monetary relief by thestate government.

Courtesy: Times News Network

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सिलिकोसिस ने दूभर की पत्थर तोड़ने वाले मजदूरों की जिंदगी

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 झारखंड में पूर्वी सिंहभूम जिले  में मूसबानी के केन्दाडीह गाँव  में मातम छाया हुआ है. मार्च  महीने में इस इलाके के तीन  और लोगों ने सिलिकोसिस  बीमारी से दम तोड़ दिया. 

 सिर्फ मार्च महीने में ही इस  जिले के छह लोगों की मौत इस  बीमारी से हो गई. पिछले कुछ  सालों में इस इलाके में  सिलिकोसिस से मरने वालों की  संख्या ३५ हो गई है. 100 से  अधिक लोग इस बीमारी की  चपेट में हैं.

 सिलिकोसिस लाइलाज बीमारी  है और यह अमूमन उन मजदूरों को हो जाती है जो या तो पत्थर तोड़ने का काम करते हैं या क्रशर मशीनों में या फिर पत्थर का पाउडर बनाने वाली फैक्टरियों में काम करते हैं.

सिलिकोसिस पूर्वी भारत के इस खनन वाले इलाके में बड़ी जानलेवा बीमारी के रूप में उभरी है. ग़ैर सरकारी संगठनों का आंकलन है कि इस बीमारी की चपेट में हज़ारों मजदूर हैं. कई मजदूरों की मौत हो चुकी है जबकि कई मौत के मुंह में हैं.

‘जिंदगी मुश्किल में’

केन्दाडीह के पास ही तेरेंगा गाँव है जहाँ मेरी मुलाक़ात 36 वर्षीय परन मुर्मू से हुई जो पिछले कई महीनो से बिस्तर पर हैं.

परन अपने गाँव के पास पत्थर का चूरा बनाने वाली एक फैक्ट्री में काम करते थे. पहले तो उनकी तबीयत ख़राब हुई और बाद में उनकी हालत बिगडती चली गई.

आज वह चल फिर भी नहीं पाते हैं. परन को सिलिकोसिस हो गया है और जैसे जैसे दिन बीत रहे हैं उनका वज़न भी घट रहा है और शरीर में कमज़ोरी भी बढती जा रही है. अब उनकी पीठ चारपाई को लग गई है. Read more

Courtesy: BBC Hindi

Environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta’s moves have India Inc see red

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MUMBAI: For India Inc, 39-year-old environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta is a perennial nuisance, someone who has been obstructing, slowing and litigating against the industrialisation of the country. But for tree huggers, he’s Captain Planet trying to save the earth from mindless destruction.

Dutta, a Supreme Court lawyer for more than a decade, has blocked big projects like bauxite mining by Vedanta Resources and Posco’s steel project in Odisha. He fought 350 cases against behemoths like Posco, Vedanta, Jindal SteelBSE 5.49 %, and government-backed NTPCBSE 0.63 % in the past 10 years, making him unpopular with Corporate India.

“A substantive amount of our industrialism is happening at the cost of the livelihoods of people,” says Dutta. “The locals are saying that they’ll get jobs as watchmen, guards, but top jobs will go to engineers from outside. It is a real issue of livelihood loss.” Read more

Courtesy: The Economic Times

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