Saturday, November 29, 2014
Sandstone mines of Rajasthan are deathbeds for many. Source:GRAVIS
Silicosis is a major occupational hazard in unorganised industries of India. A message from Rajasthan's sandstone mines on what needs to be done
AROUND 30 per cent of labourers working in the sandstone industry of western Rajasthan die of Tuberculosis (TB)) or Silicosis by the time the reach age of 45 years. The main culprit is the dust they work with.  
Though dust is of trivial significance to us, it kills millions of workers in Indian industries and mines. Silicosis, one of the many lung disorders caused by dust, is not only untreatable but also the commonest and most widespread of all occupational diseases. Exposure to large amount of free silica can pass unnoticed since it is odourless, non-irritant and hence is confused with ordinary dust.
First confirmed cases of Silicosis in India were found in Kolar gold fields in 1940s. According to estimates, 5-10 per cent of workers in coal mines and 15-20 per cent workers in manufacturing industry and metal mines suffer from Silicosis. The problem is more severe in unorganised industries like slate pencil cutting, stone cutting and agate industry since these are not covered by any legislation. 
Vinod Kumar Tyagi of Jodhpur-based Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS) talks about prevalence of Silicosis in the Rajasthan’s sandstone mines and efforts to deal with the crisis. He says formation of Pneumoconiosis Board for certification, compensation to patients and their families and implementation of safety measures at the workplaces have been the major steps taken to prevent and manage Silicosis.  
Listen to Vinod Kumar Tyagi (in Hindi)

Image source: Melissa Thereliz/Wikimedia Commons

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