Silicosis victims in Rajasthan demand relief

Mine workers in Rajasthan suffering from silicosis as an occupational disease have demanded steps for relief, while pointing out that they were not getting silicosis confirmation certificates from the Pneumoconiosis Board mandatory for getting compensation from the State government.

About 1,000 silicosis patients from the State’s nine districts gathered at a public hearing here on Wednesday and narrated their experiences while trying to obtain certificates for the non-curable disease. The mine workers said they should be included in the national and State lists of disabilities and given disability pension, besides the health insurance benefits under the Bhamashah Scheme.

According to the Suchna Evum Rozgar Ka Adhikar Abhiyan, which organised the public hearing, more than 15,000 labourers working in various mines across 16 districts in State have been diagnosed with silicosis. Over 200 of them have lost their lives during the last three years.

Basic statutory rights

Social activist Aruna Roy said the infrastructure development in the State was being carried out at the cost of people’s lives. The silicosis patients, who were losing their lives in the work, were struggling to get their basic statutory rights, she said.

The State government at present offers the relief of Rs. 1 lakh to the people diagnosed with silicosis and Rs. 3 lakh to the next of kin of those who succumb to the disease. The Pneumoconiosis Board issues certificates to the patients, making them eligible for the government’s financial assistance.

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