The Union Ministry of Rural Development has sanctioned 410 homes under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) for the rural poor in Madhya Pradesh. These homes have been sanctioned on compassionate grounds in the western districts of Alirajpur, Jhabua, Dhar and Mandsaur — which have high tribal populations and prevalence of silicosis.

Silicosis is an occupational lung disease prevalent among quartz grinding factory workers in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Workers in these factories are mostly Adivasis. Despite the low wages and the presence of silica dust in the work spot, people continue to flock to the factories due to agrarian distress.

Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh visited Jhabua in March last year and met victims of the disease. In a letter to CM Shivraj Chouhan on Tuesday, a copy of which is with this paper, Mr. Ramesh said this allocation is for below poverty line families suffering from silicosis.

“When I asked them how we could help, they asked for homes under the IAY... This allocation is over and above the 1,12,936 homes allocated for the state,” he wrote.

The central share of expenditure is Rs. 2.15 cores and the state’s share is roughly Rs. 50 lakhs.