Patients suffering from silicosis and relatives of those who died of the deadly disease are paid a paltry assistance, far less than what the Madhya Pradesh promised, a Supreme Court-mandated team has found.
The state government assured the top court in 2015 that it would provide a monthly pension of Rs 1,200 to each family of the dead and Rs 750 to silicosis patients.
But an independent committee found that all the beneficiaries — dead or alive — are getting a paltry Rs 150 a month. A number of silicosis victims and patients are still awaiting compensation.
The team headed by HN Sayeed, former director of the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Occupational Health, made this observation during its two-day visit to silicosis-hit areas in Jhabua and Alirajpur districts.
“The monetary relief promised to patients was not properly fulfilled. This apart, no proper health facility is available,” Sayeed said.
He and his teammates — HG Sadhu, the deputy director of NIOH, and social activist Amulya Nidhi — interacted with people suffering from silicosis and those who have lost relatives to the incurable lung disease. This committee will present its report to the top court.
Millions of workers in quartz mines, quarries and stone-crushing factories have contracted silicosis from long-term exposure to silica dust.
According to a Madhya Pradesh-based non-government organisation, 589 people have died of silicosis in Alirajpur, Jhabua and Dhar districts in 2015.
Sayeed said better-equipped health centres and early diagnosis could prevent the deaths.
“Silicosis can be easily checked if there is early diagnosis. But most of the patients reach hospital at an advanced stage of the disease.”
1721: Total number of victims in Jhabua, Dhar and Alirajpur districts
589: Total number of dead
238: Compensation received