‘Make silicosis a notifiable disease’


Plight of the Silicosis victims and their family members at Musabani Ghatsila. The potential victims of silicosis are poor migrant workers employed in quarries, mines, gem cutting and other hazardous occupations such as construction sites, a majority of whom are likely to die for lack of specialised treatment. File photo

Plight of the Silicosis victims and their family members at Musabani Ghatsila. The potential victims of silicosis are poor migrant workers employed in quarries, mines, gem cutting and other hazardous occupations such as construction sites, a majority of whom are likely to die for lack of specialised treatment. File photo

Special Report- The  Hindu
Health facilities, adequate compensation must be provided

Taking a serious note of the increasing silicosis-related deaths in the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended that silicosis be made a notifiable disease. Once notified, all government and private health facilities will have to report confirmed as well as suspected silicosis cases to the government.

Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by inhaling of dust containing free crystalline silica. The potential victims of silicosis are poor migrant workers employed in quarries, mines, gem cutting and other hazardous occupations such as construction sites, a majority of whom are likely to die for lack of specialised treatment.

In a special report — a first of its kind — presented to Parliament, the NHRC has suggested that the government should ensure health facilities to all workers employed at places prone to silica and earmark adequate compensation to the families in case of death.

Talking to reporters here on Friday, P.C. Sharma, NHRC member, said the governments often adopted a strange attitude by saying that those employed in such hazardous jobs were migrant labourers and under the unorganised sector of employment, and hence not much could be done.

“This is a grievous violation of human rights because laws should be equal for organised and unorganised sector workers, keeping in mind the fact that a majority of workers in the country fall in the category of unemployed sector,” he said.

Mr. Sharma admitted that numerous laws were only on paper and poorly implemented. Preventive measures and health care facilities should be the responsibility of the employers, he said.

The Commission has also written to all States to identify the hazardous industries and mapping them for silica generation which results in silicosis. The response from the States were not adequate and they had been asked to send specific answers.

The report to Parliament also suggests regular check-up for the workers employed at places where they are exposed to silica and even linking silica treatment with the TB Control Programme.

It was based on the NHRC recommendation that Rajasthan enhanced compensation in case of silica-related death to Rs.3 lakh. It has also set up a corpus of Rs.25 crore for the purpose as instances of silica-related cases are very high in that State.

For the Respect of the Rights of all Migrant Workers !

The fundamental right of each and every human being should be to remain in their country of origin and to have basic needs met.
But the unequal development that characterises the world today is forcing vastly more and more people to look for a better future in another country. In the last few decades international migration has grown enormously. The neo-liberal policies that dominate the process of globalisation today have accelerated international migration, providing capital with an ever cheaper work force. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of migrants doubled and now exceeds 200 million people across the world. All regions of the world are affected by the phenomenon although one thing that is new is that today women constitute nearly half of all migrants.

Inevitably this enormous movement of people has significant economic, political, social and cultural consequences, as much in the host country as in the countries they are leaving. The country of origin loses many well educated people (brain drain), who are of course indispensable to economic, social and cultural development but the host country benefits accordingly. The migrants contribute to the prosperity of the host countries to the extent that they have become vital to the functioning of their economies. Migrants also contribute to the host country culturally and artistically.

We must not lose sight of the fact that migrants also play an equalising role, offering a kind of safety-net in an unequal world, by financially maintaining their families who have stayed behind in the country of origin. In 2010, the amount of money sent back by migrant workers to their country of origin (in the South) was nearly three times the amount received by those countries in development aid.

Contrary to common perception in the West, by far the largest international migration occurs between countries of the South. According to 2010 figures, out of 128 million migrants living in countries of the North only 74 million originated from countries in the South, whereas the latter receive 86 million on their own soil.

We must also remember that the reason that so called “irregular”, “clandestine” or “undocumented” migration has increased in Europe and in the USA (who receive nearly half of the irregular migrants in the world) is precisely because these countries have taken administrative, legislative and even military measures to prevent all “unwanted” migration to their territory. These measures have removed all the weight from the Geneva Convention, which was already quite restricted in its application, and have rendered it almost inoperable, as is certainly the case in Europe.

While host states have the right, within current international law, to regulate levels of migration they also have a duty both to respect and to ensure respect for the rights of migrants who do arrive (regular or irregular). This is the message at the heart of the UN and ILO international conventions.

While this report concentrates mainly on the situation of irregular migrants, it will also look at the scope and workings of these conventions.

I The causes of international migration
II The Problems and Human Rights Violations encountered by migrants during the process of migration
III The situation for migrants in the host country and at their borders
A) The European Union

1. The situation for regular migrants

2. The situation for irregular migrants

3. The situation for asylum seekers

4. Arbitrary detention

5. The crime of solidarity
B) The situation of domestic workers throughout the world
IV Recommendations at the international level to protect the rights of migrants


Download Report Here

I feel so sad…….

I feel so sad, seeing the beggars

as I walk into the temple,

with my diamond earrings.

I feel so sad, seeing young men,

hang out of buses ,

as I overtake them,

in my air-conditioned car.

I feel so sad, seeing the child

sweep the floor,

as I talk to my son,

studying in Cambridge.

I feel so sad, seeing the dirty slums

as I stand by my balcony.

Sorry, I shall be late for cocktails

O can’t miss the meeting of

the Committee for Social Justice,

Our American donors are coming.

You can chose to die in malutrition, hunger

or toxic waste….



– K.Ashok Rao, a working class leader

MGNREGA Worker Jagu Bhuiyan’s Suicide case

(Report of the 4 member Fact Finding team from Jharkhand NREGA Watch)


Karmatand, Panchayat Hotai, Block Panki, Dist. Palamau, Jharkhand. A 55 year old Dalit man, Jagu Bhuiyan hung himself from a tree in his farm on the night of the 6th of January, 2012. He was a beneficiary of a Well Construction scheme sanctioned under MGNREGA. A well was being constructed on Jagu’s land under scheme number 11/2010-11 in the financial year 2010-11. The labourers who had worked for the well before monsoon, were continuously demanding their wages.

A team of Jharkhand NREGA Watch went to Karmatand on 9th January, 2012 for immediate fact finding of the main reasons for suicide. The team talked to the family members of Jagu Bhuiyaan and other villagers. The salient points of the fact-finding are as under: Jagu’s wife, Kabootri Devi informed that on the night of 6th January, 2012, like every day, Jagu went to sleep at the shed on their farmland. When his children went to the farm on the morning of 7th January, 2012, they saw their father’s body hanging from the Palash tree and then informed the villagers about it immediately. The villagers informed the Panchayat representatives about it, who then informed the Paanki police station through the local guard. His body was then lifted by the police. Jagu’s wife Kabootri Devi, Son Doman Bhuiyan (30), Anu Bhuiyan, Nandev Bhuiyan, Bhola Uraon, Ward member Pratima Devi (ward number 5), labourers and villagers informed in the formal meeting that they had got an order from the block for a well construction.

Work was commenced in April, 2011. 10 labourers had worked continuously till 15th June, 2011 but in the Well Construction Scheme of Jagu Bhuiyan, the labourers got Rs. 14200 in one installment. He sold off one Ox for paying the labourers and distributed the money he got from selling the ox, to the labourers. Despite this, there was Rs. 1720 as pending wages, of Anu Bhuiyan and his wife. 400 boulders and sand has been lifted to the worksite. There is no entry in the Measurement Book for the material and no payment has been made against the above mentioned material. If the labourers who were working on the Well digging are to be believed, the well was dug 28 feet into the ground. According to the model rate, the cost of this is Rs. 43920.

The Nodal Officer found the depth to be 20 feet on 9th of January in his investigation. That the wells constructed before monsoons have been crushed down/damaged by rains is a well known fact, both with the District and State Administration. Even if the costing of the well is to be done at the current depth, it comes to Rs. 18445. Add to that, the cost of the boulders and sand that was lifted to the site. If the total pending wages are calculated, even by the strictest standards, they add up to Rs. 10000. The actual situation in the Hotai Panchayat is worse. All the people working on MGNREGA in Jharkhand must be knowing that the Chief Secretary, Jharkhand state had ordered in March 2011 for construction of 50 wells in every Panchayat. The well construction scheme in Jharkhand has faced controversy since then. Because, under the provisions of MGNREGA, the right to choose schemes rests with the Gram Sabha and not with any minister or political leader.

In Hotai Panchayat, construction had begun on 44 wells around the 15th of April.We also remember that the transfer of funds from the District to the Panchayats accounts took place on 24thJune, 2011, only after the intervention of the MGNREGA Commissioner. The Hotai Panchayat received only one installment, that of Rs. 9,90,000 in the financial year 2011-12. Under the Wage Payment head of Hotai Panchayat’s account for the labourers who worked before monsoons, the balance is only Rs. 500 since July 2011. For all the well construction schemes only that commenced before monsoons, the Panchayat needs Rs. 5,00,000 from the government. The situation is that there have been no efforts since July 2011 to provide any employment to the MGNREGA labourers in Hotai.

The major irregularities in implementation of MGNREGA in Hotai Panchayat

  • There was a dearth of funds since June 2011 in the Panchayat. The Mukhiya (Sarpanch/Pradhan) of the Panchayat sent 5 written requests to the Administration for allocation for NREGA between 2nd June 2011 and 16th December 2011.
  • The labourers have been paid at a rate of Rs. 100 which is lower than the minimum wage in Jharkhand, Rs. 120. And this has been paid “in cash”.
  • None of the labourers have their pass-books, either of the bank or the post office.
  • Rs. 500000 is pending as wages since the past six months in 44 well construction schemes, work on which started in April 2011.
  • Muster Rolls haven’t been maintained properly for any scheme or worksite.
  • None of the labourers’ job cards have been renewed despite the fact that their job cards were valid only till 31st March, 2010.
  • Most of the families dependent upon labour have migrated to other states in search of work.

Be it the beneficiaries of NREGA or the activists struggling against the corruption in welfare schemes, the instances of their suicide and gruesome murder are continuously being reported in Jharkhand. The police haven’t yet solved the case of an RTI activist, Pradeep Prasad’s murder that took place in Pandeypura village of Latehar district of the state on 29thDecember 2011, just a fortnight back. The suicide of Jagu Bhuiyan has proved that the administration is totally insensitive about the situation of NREGA. It should be remembered that after the murder of Subal Mahto in Bokaro district and Niyamat Ansari in Latehar district of Jharkhand, the Central Government had appealed the State Government to prevent such events in future. Also, it had been ordered by the Central Government that under the Pilot Action Research programme, 12 districts of Jharkhand will focus on special thematic areas for better implementation of NREGA. But the District administration of Palamau has been unresponsive to the programme and hence satisfactory results haven’t been achieved. For assistance of the people who were financially dependent upon Jagu Bhuiyan and for the punishment of the people who are responsible for this, we have the following demands from the Palamau District Administration:

  1. According to the order of the Jharkhand government, reference number 4-1010(NREGA)/10/Rural Development-4716 Ranchi/dated 1/8/2011, a compensation of Rs. 75000 should be provided to Jagu bhuiyan’s wife, Kabootri Devi, within the next three days.
  2. A case should be filed against the officers responsible for Jagu Bhuiyan’s suicide under the section 306.
  3. The family should get Rs. 5 lakhs as compensation and a Government job of the 4th grade to one member of the family.
  4. Other social security benefits (under the National Family Benefit Scheme, Widow pension scheme, Indira Awas Yojana and free education for the children) should be provided to the members of the family within a specified time.
  5. To avoid any such event in the future, camps should be organized in every block of the Palamau district and all the cases of pending wages should be solved.
  6. The Government should protect and guarantee the security of the activists and individuals who take up pro-poor causes with the help of RTI or in MGNREGA.

Names of the members of the fact-finding team of Jharkhand NREGA Watch are:

  1. Virendra Paswan
  2. Mithlesh Kumar
  3. Jitendra Singh
  4. James Herenj

The Jharkhand NREGA Watch team met Ms. Pooja Singhal, the Deputy Commisioner, Palamau district on 11thJanuary, 2012 presenting her their fact finding report about Jagu Bhuiyan’s suicide case. They also demanded for essential benefits for the family. The DC discussed and decided action on the following major points:

  1. There are significant similarities between the report submitted by the Jharkhand NREGA Watch team and the administrative team that visited the village. But there are certain things in the case that require further inquiry.
  2. The family of Jagu Bhuiyaan will be provided the following social security benefits: Rs. 10000 under the National Family Benefit Scheme, Rs. 75000 under the scheme for NREGA labourers by Jharkhand Government, Widow Pension and food entitlements.
  3. A strategy will be made for a long-term solution of the institutional problems in the administration for better implementation of NREGA.

A video has been prepared on this suicide case which can be accessed on YouTube through the following link

Gang Rape of a girl looking for her Paramour

A Girl  in a relationship with a  Bengali Migrant worker was  gang raped soon after she had arrived in Kerala escorted by her brother and another acquaintance, in search of the whereabouts of her  paramour.

This is an account posted by Thasni Banu in Malayalanadu  Facebook Forum, relating to the plight of a Bengali girl who had been gang raped by four Keralite men in Kannur district .The gruesome incident happened as the girl with her brother and a male acquaintance came to Kerala in search of her  paramour, a poor migrant labourer from West Bengal .

At the time of being offered a lift in a lorry she was in the company of her brother and other two male accomplices who would help her to find the whereabouts of her paramour . Those who offered them lift in the lorry attacked the three male accomplices and repeatedly raped the girl before leaving her totally disrobed on the way side. The police promptly made inquiry and got arrested four men in the incident.

After treatment at Kannur Dist hospital under police supervision, she has reportedly recovered physically but understandably,the trauma will not go away like that.The girl now having shifted to the medical college hospital, Calicut needs reassurance and lot of kindness apart from the most urgently needed expert management and counselling to cope with her present situation .A few poor Bengali migrant workers are now taking care of her, even forgoing their meagre wages of daily labour for more than a week.

The incident, together with many similar occurrences in Kerala tells a lot about the insensitivity to the plight of tens of thousands of migrant workers in Kerala.

source- mail by Venugopalan K M -kmvenuannur@gmail.com


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