Govt turns blind eye to asbestosis victims demands


Jaipur: On the sixth day of a dharna being staged by group of alleged asbestosis victims at the Jhadole block of Udaipur,instead of being given a patient ear,the subdivisional magistrates (SDM) office has washed its hands of.The SDM’s office has held accountable one from among the group to be responsible for any eventuality.
In what is now being termed by activists as a gross violation of human rights,the SDM’s office has sent a letter to one Bansilal Vadera,general secretary of the Rajasthan State Mines Labour Union,which apart from clarifying the stance of the SDMs office puts the onus on Bansilal if anything happens to anyone from among those staging the dharna.
The letter,a copy of which is with the TOI,states that the SDM’s office has nothing to do with the demands.The medical tests done on you all were by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH),Ahmedabad,and you all are at a complete liberty to ask them for the test results.This office has nothing to do with the medical test results and you are being asked to end the dharna.If anything happens to anyone here in this biting cold,you will be responsible.We are not to be blamed, the letter states.
This is an absolute lack of concern of human rights.The people staging the dharna are all those who have been working at asbestos mines at some point of time.They might have contracted asbestosis.In fact,the NIOH had done a test on 126 of them and,in a research paper,have confirmed they are suffering from the disease.All that these persons are now asking report of those tests so that they may approach the suitable person for a compensation and get themselves treated, explains Rana Sengupta,managing trustee of Mines labour Protection Campaign (MLPC).
They on their own have tried to get the results even by filing an RTI but have been unsuccessful.
So is it not the responsibility of the state to help them get the same.It is their right that they get results or that the state does independent tests on them to confirm whether or not they are positive as they belong to the BPL category, he said.
The MLPC has been helping in the cause of these people so that they get their rights.The NIOH had conducted tests on 163 persons,including 56 females,two years back.But in the meantime 18 persons have died and we donot know if they were from amongst those who were ascertained to be positive or are others, Sengupta said.
Entrapped in a similar violation of human rights are the widows of 21 silicosis victims in Jodhpur.Having lost their husbands to the disease sometime ago the women have been running from pillar to post seeking compensation.
However,even after interventions from the National Human Rights Commission,they have not yet got any compensation.All that the state has granted them is a Rs 1 lakh per women as a grant as an interim relief.
It is becoming a losing battle for these victims and a sheer case of human rights violation against mine workers in the state.But we will not give up and take these cases to their logical end, Sengupta added.