Kolkata

Treat us for silicosis, not TB: miners in M.P.

Miners at work in a mine in Ganj Basoda district of Madhya Pradesh.

Miners at work in a mine in Ganj Basoda district of Madhya Pradesh.  

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Miners of Ganj Basoda district in Madhya Pradesh suffering from silicosis on Friday decided to organise themselves to press for adequate compensation and appeal to the government for right treatment, instead of being treated for tuberculosis.

Around 10,000 miners from 40 villages in the district have been facing the threat of the respiratory disease, said activist Pramod Pateriya in Bhopal.

The workers are drawing inspiration from Jodhpur’s Raju Devi, who, after her husband’s death due to silicosis, organised around 25,000 miners and secured their rights.

At Pathar village in Ganj Basoda, said Mr. Pateriya, while the tribal sarpanch himself is a miner, there were 40 women among 600 people, belonging mainly to the Saharia tribe, who had lost their husbands to silicosis.

An occupational disease, silicosis is more prevalent among miners who are exposed to dust containing crystallised silica. Over time, it could build up in lungs, cause bloody coughing and breathlessness.

Mothers usually take their children to sites where they break smaller stones, said lawyer Abhay Jain. “As a result, even children get affected.”

Recently, two children, aged 12 and 14 years, died of silicosis in the village.

Immunity level

“When miners turn 35, immunity falls and they contract the disease easily. But the government is not ready to admit the extent of the disease, and treat them for TB instead,” said Santosh Chidar, local in-charge of Khadan Mazdoor Sangathan.

”We need to organise at the local level,” said Randhir Kushwah, a miner.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 8:12:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/treat-us-for-silicosis-not-tb-miners-in-mp/article29535140.ece

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