The NHRC Chairperson, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, today said that the State Governments were not serious enough in dealing with silicosis, a disease of lungs caused due to inhalation of silica in dust which is incurable but preventable.
Silicosis is prevalent in almost all States though they did not maintain an authentic data on the exact number of affected persons. He said that the callous attitude of State Governments is a point of concern for the NHRC.
Justice Balakrishnan expressed these views while inaugurating a day-long National Conference on Silicosis organized by the NHRC, here at the India International Centre.
He said that the occupational hazards of silicosis are preventable if the working conditions are properly regulated and proper warning and protective equipment is used. But the employers are not putting them to practice. He said that there should be a separate law to ensure implementation of preventive measures to protect workers from silicosis.
He said that lakhs of workers might have caught up silicosis while working in quarries, stone crushing units, mines, glass cutting factories, sand blasting, construction, gem cutting industries, ceramic industries, but the Government has not done any survey to find out an authentic number of the victims of silicosis.
Therefore, it is difficult for the Commission to pursue the issue of compensation to individuals, as per the mandate given to it by the Supreme Court of India.
Justice Balakrishnan said that it was of utmost importance for the States to develop capacity building, especially in healthcare, to identify the patients of silicosis for remedial, relief and rehabilitative measures.
Underscoring the problems of migrant workers, he said that they were the most vulnerable to this disease and suffer the most when they catch this disease as nobody would know about their whereabouts, leaving their families and dependents distraught.
NHRC Members and senior officers, representatives of Central and State Governments, Union Territory Administrations, National Commissions, State Human Rights Commissions, Health Experts and Scientists, representatives of non-governmental organizations working in the field of silicosis are attending this Conference. (ANI)