Over 2.3 lakh mine workers at risk of silicosis lung disease, Supreme Court told | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Over 2.3 lakh mine workers at risk of silicosis lung disease, Supreme Court told

In the last five years, 14,064 mines have been inspected out of which 3,076 were found to have violated the regulations. Notices were issued to 998 and prohibitory orders were issued against 847.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2017 23:56 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Workers fully exposed to silica dust in a grinding unit near Jamshedpur. In the last five years, 14,064 mines have been inspected out of which 3,076 were found to have violated the regulations.
Workers fully exposed to silica dust in a grinding unit near Jamshedpur. In the last five years, 14,064 mines have been inspected out of which 3,076 were found to have violated the regulations.(HT Photo)

Over 2.3 lakh people employed at various mining sites are at the risk of contracting silicosis, a lung disease caused due to inhalation of dust containing silica, the Supreme Court was told last week.

The large number is despite the regulations binding mining operators to prevent and suppress air-borne dust so that nobody falls sick to the life-threatening ailment.

The information was submitted to the top court by the Director General of Mines Safety in an affidavit, which also gave details of how many deaths have taken place due to silicosis in a decade. Rajasthan saw maximum casualties where 323 people died of the disease. The state spent ₹9.73 crore to compensate family members of the victims.

Read | Tales of despair and exploitation resonate at public hearing on silicosis

Four deaths were reported from MP and two from Karnataka. Centre did not furnish data regarding other states.

The government affidavit was filed before the SC in a case where the top court had last year ordered Gujarat government to pay ₹3 lakh each to the kin of 238 workers from Madhya Pradesh who died of silicosis contracted while working in stone crushing units in Godhra. A bench headed by Justice Kurien Joseph issued the order on a 2006 petition filed by Peoples’ Rights and Social Research Centre.

The court had then asked the Centre for a report detailing the measures undertaken to increase awareness about the disease.

It also wanted to know whether action has been taken against mines that flouted the regulations.

Read | About 10 m workers are exposed to silicosis in India. But the State does not care

According to the data, there are over 44,000 mines where 3.44 lakh labourers are working. The survey suggests that 2.35 lakh face the hazard of contracting the lung disease.

According to Centre’s affidavit, there are over 1.4 lakh people working in Rajasthan mines and all could be afflicted with the respiratory problem. Similarly in Tamil Nadu all the 18,000 odd mining employees may end up with the disease, the data revealed.

In the last five years, 14,064 mines have been inspected out of which 3,076 were found to have violated the regulations. Notices were issued to 998 and prohibitory orders were issued against 847.