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Silicosis victims of stone quarries in Rajasthan, India


Description

Rajasthan is one of the rich mineral states of India.

About sixty-four different kinds of metallic and non-metallic minerals, ores and deposits are available in the state. As a result various forms of mining activity are the second most employment generator in the state after agriculture. According to an estimate, over 3.1 million workers (most of them are tribal and dalits, economically and socially weaker section of the society) are engaged in the mining activity. Most of these workers work in sub-standard working condition without any standard wages, insurance and health facilities. So, unhealthy work conditions leads to occupational hazards and chronic diseases among the mining workers in the state [1] Looking at their apathy many organizations started advocacy to get their rights. Trade unions for example; New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) and NGOs for example Mine Labour Protection Campaign (or MLPC) to name a few are vocal on the causes of Rajasthan Mining workers. They raised their issues in various platforms time to time. In 2007, many cases of silicosis were reported in Jodhpur. Thanks to the demand from the protesting organizations, National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) conducted tests for silicosis on 164 people from Jhadole and Devgarh villages. Even with the pressing demands from various corners, the report was not made public even after an RTI (Right to Information) application [5].

In 2011, the affected workers along their families started dharna (sit in protest) before the sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM) office in Jhadole, Udaipur. They demanded the medical reports conducted by NIOH. They pressed this demand because if the medical reports state that are suffering from silicosis, it will entitle them free medical treatment, compensation and other facilities according to the Supreme Court laid down norms. The SDM assured them that he will look into the matter [5].

A complaint was lodged by New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) with the National Human Rights Commission. They claimed that more than 40,000 workers were employed in about 7,000 sand stone quarries in Jodhpur. Most of the workers are without any facilities. They want recognition, compensation, medical facilities as stated in ‘Workman Compensation Act’ [5].

Basic Data

NameSilicosis victims of stone quarries in Rajasthan, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceRajasthan
SiteVillage - Jhadol and Deogarh ; District-Jodhpur
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific CommoditiesSand, gravel

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsRajasthan, the largest state of India is very mineral rich state. Most of the mineral deposits in the state are concentrated in and around the Aravali range. So, the mining activities are mainly concentrated in and around these areas. As per the official records there are 33,199 mines of varying sizes that occupy approximately 4 lakh hectares of land in the state. Although, the state has vast potential of mining activity, it is not much of government control and most of the mining activity is done through unorganized sector. Most of the mining is controlled by medium and small mine owners and contractors. Most of the time they do not stick to the government prescribed laid down rules and regulations. Lacks of inadequate monitoring mechanisms have led to unethical mining practices. In the long run it causes environmental damage and severe effect to human health [1].
Project Area (in hectares)4,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population40,000-50,000
Start Date2007
Relevant government actorsNational Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Government of Rajasthan

Rajasthan Pollution Control Board

National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSilicosis Sangarsh Samiti,

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)

Mine Labour Protection Campaign (or MLPC)

Rajasthan Rajya Khan Majdoor Union

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Strikes

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Mine tailing spills, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
OtherSilicosis
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The mining is Rajasthan is characterized by a high level of informal or unorganized employment. Although the Supreme Court has dictate a clear ruling to stick to the mining norms, many of the small and medium mine owners and contractors do not stick to the safety and environmentally friendly standards at the mines. Their priority is to get more profits rather than the workers’ safety. The miners work long hours and face accidents during their works and many of them are not reported. The owners also do not maintain the records of workers so they cannot even claim compensations. Overall, corruptions in many forms are very much prevalent among mining industry in Rajasthan [2].

The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has fixed a compensation of Rs 3 lakh in the cases of silicosis victims in Rajasthan. It has directed to pay to the kin of the worker who died out of Silicosis. NHRC thinks that state is responsible for the violation of the human rights so, it is state’s responsibility to pay compensation to the victims [3].

In April 2011 Rajasthan Government allocated about Rs 25.60 crore for medical and other facilities for silicosis affected workers and their families. With the pressure from various corners, perhaps this is the first time that a State government has been forced to pay compensation to informal workers for occupational health hazard. The struggle for the workers had been led by Silicosis Sangarsh Samiti, a platform of workers affected by silicosis and their families along with the Rajasthan Rajya Khan Mazdoor Union, an affiliate of the New Trade Union Initiative NTUI [5].

Sources and Materials

Legislations

Laws relating to Social Security and Compensation Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923
http://labour.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/ActsandRules/SocitySecurity/TheWorkmenAct1923.pdf

The Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act
http://www.moef.nic.in/legis/air/air1.html

References

Rajasthan Development Report
http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/stateplan/sdr/sdr_rajasthan.pdf

Human Development Report Rajasthan
http://statistics.rajasthan.gov.in/Details/hd_final.pdf

National Human Rights Commission - NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SILICOSIS minutes, 25.07.2014
http://nhrc.nic.in/Documents/Background%20Note%20on%20Silicosis.pdf

Links

[2] Mine Workers of Rajasthan – Emerging Leaders in Veils
http://www.amrc.org.hk/node/1123

[3] Rajasthan Rajya Khan Majdoor Union
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/silicosis-stir-six-on-dharna-fall-ill/articleshow/7967582.cms

[4] Rajasthan Rajya Khan Mazdoor Union protest for silicosis victims
http://ntui.org.in/ntui-news/item/rajasthan-rajya-khan-mazdoor-union-protest-for-silicosis-victims/

[5] Campaign on occupational safety and health
http://ntui.org.in/union-power/september-2011/

[1] Tarun Kanti Bose Mining In Rajasthan: A Study of Patterns & Paradigms Available at
https://www.scribd.com/doc/16069340/Mining-in-Rajasthan

Media Links

Silicosis in Jodhpur Rajasthan (in Hindi)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAbYg5PaSRY

Rajasthan village inhabited by widows (in Hindi)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGZhzyKNzLE

Occupational Health Hazards of Silicosis in Dang Region of Rajasthan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyR6CVRnM4o

Other Documents

Protest by mining workers in Rajasthan Source : http://ntui.org.in/union-power/september-2011/
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/May_Day.JPG

Meta Information

ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update25/02/2015

Images

 

Protest by mining workers in Rajasthan

Source : http://ntui.org.in/union-power/september-2011/