Two more men,employed in the agate-cutting industry in Khambat,have died due to silicosis. While one of them,identified as 35-year-old Asad Sheikh,a resident of Pirajpur,died on December 12,the other,identified as 55-year-old Ismail Mohammed,a resident of Shakarpur. died on December 7.
According to a report by Jagdish Patel of the Peoples Training and Research Centre engaged in the welfare of agate workers,Sheikh had been engaged in the industry for the past 15 years and was bed-ridden for the past three to four years. He was survived by his widow Sabina and three children. Mohammed is survived by his widow and two sons,one of whom is mentally retarded.
Patel said the state government had issued a notification in 2009 to cover agate workers under Factories Act and provide them with monetary assistance in case of death. But the order,he said,remains to be implemented yet. He said that government had in May 2012 declared that the families of workers of un-organised agate industry would be given Rs 1 lakh as relief,if the worker died of silicosis. But that too had not been implemented. He said not a single worker had been paid so far. He demanded Rs 3 lakh as compensation to each of the families of two who died due to silicosis.
According to Jagdish Patel,a total of nine persons have died due to silicosis in 2013. The total number of those having died of silicosis since 2007,he said,was over 83.