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New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member Justice Cyriac Joseph on Friday urged legislators and parliamentarians to pay more attention to checking Silicosis.

Inaugurating a day long conference on the disease here,  Justice Cyriac Joseph said that building awareness about silicosis among legislators and parliamentarians was  necessary to help them make laws and rules.  At the same time, he said, it is expected that they also acquaint themselves with the ground situation, studies and recommendations by the State Human Rights Commissions and the National Human Rights Commission about this life threatening disease through the reports submitted to State Assemblies and Parliament.

The conference on Silicosis organized by the NHRC for endemic States ended making several suggestions to ameliorate the cause of millions of workers who due to exposure to silica dust fall victim to silicosis, an incurable disease of lungs often confused with tuberculosis.  It was felt that the states needed to be more proactive and consistent in implementing the recommendations made by the NHRC to address the issue of silicosis. It  also felt that a lot still needs to be done by the governments to bridge the gap between the intent, policies and delivery to check the causes of this disease among the workers in mines, quartz industry, construction sites, gem cutting, stone crushing, glass manufacturing, slate, ceramic and pencil industries.

The diagnosis of silicosis is not easy and there is still no survey done to find the exact number of persons affected with silicosis, though on the basis of some samples, it is believed that a large number of workers, in the silica generating vocations, are affected by it in different states articularly those wherein mining is being done on a large scale. They include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Balvinder Kumar, Secretary, Union Ministry of Mines, said that 40% workers in Rajasthan were suffering from silicosis and efforts were needed to be made on a wider scale, which as of now are not sufficient, to check the spread of silica dust.


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