The director general of mines safety of Dhanbad zone, will start an occupational health and safety survey of silicosis-affected people across Jharkhand from Monday in collaboration with not-for- profit organisations, a top official said.
The survey aims to identify people suffering from silicosis–a deadly disease that leads to slow degradation of lung tissues following long exposure to silica dust– register them, arrange of their treatment, start awareness campaigns for prevention of the disease and ensure safety measures are adopted by mines owners.
The decision was taken at a meeting of stakeholders held by the director general of mines safety (DGMS) on Friday at Dhanbad following a Supreme Court order on August 23
The top court has sought a comprehensive report from the DGMS within eight weeks.
“Officials and mining engineers will go out to stone quarries, coal and other mines that generate dusts from in the next two days to identify people suffering from silicosis and vulnerable mining sites,” said Sanjiban Roy, deputy director general at the directorate in Dhanbad.
“They will collect photo id-cards and Aadhaar numbers of workers engaged in the mines and prepare a list,” he told Hindustan Times.
He further said that the directorate and government hospitals will jointly organize medical camps in vulnerable areas, for which state principal secretary SK Rahate has already given his nod. “It will be the responsibility of the mines owners to bring workers who are suffering from silicosis to the medical camps,” he said.
“We will also hold similar meetings and workshops at Bokaro, Koderma, Dumka, Pakur and Jamshedpur next.”
A study by Samit Carr of the city-based NGO– Occupational Safety and Health Association of Jharkhand – working for silicosis- affected patients for more than a decade and one of the main petitioners in top court – on the steps taken until by the Jharkhand and West Bengal governments was presented at the meeting.
“ Seventy-six out of the 300 workers engaged in the white stone-grinding units in East Singhbhum’ Musaboni have died of silicosis during the last decade. We estimate that more than 1,000 workers engaged in units in Gmahaia-Adityapur industrial areas and Kandra have been affected by silicosis during the last three decades…,” Carr said in the report.