As many as 13 workers died of silicosis in the last 16 months in Gujarat while 168 workers were killed in industrial accidents between November 2018 and November 2019, Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), an NGO working for occupational health, said on Tuesday.
“Diagnosis of occupational disease in the country must be happening, but official data of such diagnosis are scarcely made public. However, 13 persons died due to silicosis from the group of workers we have been working with in Gujarat between January, 2019 and April 2020. They include seven workers working in ceramic factories in Thangadh, three sculptors of Dhrangadhra, one worker in tile industry of Morbi and two from Rajkot district,” Jagdish Patel, director of PTRC said in a release issued on Tuesday on the occasion of International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD).
IWMD is observed on April 28 to pay tribute to those workers who die due to occupational diseases and in industrial accidents as well as to demand better working environment for workers.
Thangadh town in Surendranagar is a hub of factories producing ceramic sanitary ware products while Dhrangadhra, also in Surendranagar district, is known for sculptors who make idols from stones.
“We have recorded 28 deaths since 2016 in three districts of Surendranagar, Morbi and Rajkot. Of them, 21 have been recorded in Surendranagar, four in Rajkot and three in Morbi. The 21 deaths in Surendranagar include 16 ceramic workers of Thangadh and five sculptors of Dhrangadhra,” Patel told The Indian Express.
The workers who died in Rajkot included those who had worked in marble industry in Rajasthan and ceramic industry of Surendranagar.
“As per our records, there are 70 workers who have developed silicosis in these three districts. Surendranagar accounts for bulk of them with Thangadh having 25 active cases, Dhrangadhra 22 and three in other parts of the district. Rajkot and Morbi have 12 and eight cases respectively,” the PTRC director further said.
The PTRC release also said that total 168 workers lost their lives to industrial accidents in the state between November 2018 and November, 2019. Patel said that 19 more workers were killed in three major industrial accidents the state in the first two months of this year.
Apart from this, 218 workers have died in the state from January 2018 to November 2019. “According to departmental information (provided by Gujarat government), 17.25 lakh workers were employed in 32,192 units registered in Gujarat and having establishments in the state in 2018 but of them, 263 workers died in fatal accidents,” the PTRC release further said.
“According to these figures, the rate of fatalities in accidents is 15.23 per one lakh workers. It was merely 1.65 in 28 member countries of European Union in 2017. It shows that we have a long way to go in providing safe working place to our workers,” said Patel.
The PTRC also demanded that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Clinical Establishment Act, 2010 should be implemented in Gujarat.