SURVEY OF AGATE WORKERS
PTRC carried out a survey of agate workers in Nov-Dec,2010. Presented here is summary of the report.
One of the objectives of the study was to know the number of workers engaged in different operations of Agate process and to know the number of workers from different areas. 4570 agate workers participated in the study which included 2358 male and 2212 female workers. Another important objective of the study was to know the age profile of the workers The age range is 6-85. How ever the average age of the respondents was 34.94 (34.25 for male and 31.54 for female). 81.94% respondents are from Khambhat city while rest are from villages in Khambhat taluka. One village in Anklav taluka and 2 villages of Jambusar taluka of Bharuch district are also covered. 67.54% respondents were married, 29.31% unmarried. Youngest age at which one is married is 17 and youngest age at which one had child is 18, both are female. 408 married respondents had no children. On the other hand there were 41 respondents who reported 6-8 children.
Respondents engaged themselves in 6 different process of the industry. Largest number of respondents, 31.04% were engaged in making small pieces known as Fodiya, Vindhara or those in boring operation were 26.11% while 15.34% were Ghasiya who are at highest risk of getting silicosis- a fatal lung disease. Rest 16% were engaged in cutting, drum and polishing processes. We collected information also on finer details of their work to assess the risk they carry. 79.14% respondents work for full time while 20.74% work for part time. Female were in high proportion-84.4%- among this group.
40.43% workers work in employer’s house while 58.84% work in their own home. This data may help us in establishing employer-employee relationship. 43.91% work since last 5 years or less which indicate that the industry keep getting new workers. Only 2.36% (108) have been working since more than 31 years but less than 40 years and only 8 for more than 40 years. One of the objectives of the study was to know their financial status. 85.44% earn Rs.2,000 or less per month. 14.46% earn more than that. 73.31% respondents earn Rs.50 or less per day. 483 respondents have exposure to silica dust while working in dry process. 73.45 respondents replied that they do not own machine. 4.24% only reported any sickness among themselves while 40% reported they have sick in their family. 34.85 had one or more addiction. Tobacco chewing is most popular addiction. 47 male and 35 female in age group 14-18 found having addiction of tobacco. Only 3.89% respondents are in debt. Majority among them are Ghasiya. 178 respondents together reported total amount of Rs.11.77 lakh as Baki. 99.67% do not buy or sell stones which establish them as wage workers.
One of the objectives of the study was to know their preparedness to work in common shed, if built with all common facilities for dust reduction. 32.67% respondents have shown preparedness to work in common shed while 16.21% are fence sitters and will decide later. 51.07% categorically refused. Those who are prepared to work in common shed are from all major processes and all geographical areas under study. 2810 (61.47%) respondents claimed they are BPL but only 2379 have BPL card. 4012 respondents have voter card. 41 have driving license. One of the objectives of the study was to know their other skills which may be used for their rehabilitation. 10.87% respondents have some other skill which may help them earn living but 89.13% do not know any other skill to earn their living and are solely dependent on this industry.
Following exposure to Polyacrylate,Outbreak of new occupational illness
PTRC received a mail in May,2011 from Dr. A. Dewan, freelance toxicologist in Ahmadabad informing that she has seen a patient under treatment at J. M. Hospital, Ahmadabad who worked for a chemical factory manufacturing poly acrylate and other polymers for 10-12 months and then she complained of severe breathlessness. Upon investigation it was diagnosed to be a case of pneumo-thorax with fibrosis. The patient had informed that some of her other colleagues, too have similar health complaints. PTRC then decided to take up investigation. We visited the patients in June, 2011. In our investigation we found 3 more similar cases who worked in same factory and have similar complaints. We also visited a widow who lost her young daughter, Alka Thakor who worked in this factory for some time and then had similar complaints. All patients are very young, have had no prior exposure to hazardous material any where, were exposed to high amount of fine dust at work and were healthy when employed. It is learnt that there are few more cases whom we have not been able to visit. Mrs.Naina Mistry, later succumbed to her lung fibrosis in September, 2011.
PTRC released the report in a press conference at Ahmadabad. Press gave wide coverage. Later we sent press clippings to the Chief Justice, Gujarat High Court who later filed suo-moto PIL. In this PIL Hon’be Court directed National Institute of Occupational Health to examine all existing workers. Accordingly, NIOH examined all 84 workers. Out of 84, 12 were found suffering from lung disease and 17 from liver disease. The Court directed the Company to suspend the affected workers till they regain their health, protect their pay, provide them free treatment and reinstate them when treatment is over.
Silicosis Ni Akik Ghasiya Kutumbo Par Padti Asar No Abhyas ( Gujarati ) - 2003
(Study of Effects of Silicosis on Polishers Families : Agate Industry of Khambhat )
Khambhat is world’s oldest center for beads while polishing the Agate stone to give desired shape lot of dust is generated inhalation of the dust causes silicosis. Large number of workers die at young age due to silicosis. This study was undertaken in year 2003 to study how the families affected after main bread earner of the family dies. The report presented case studies. The study is descriptive. This study has identified needs for social intervention.
Trend of Occupational diseases in Baroda-2001
The questionnaire survey was undertaken of select industrial units in Vadodara (Baroda) district. The study was funded by Environment fund for NGOs, New Delhi.
296 workers responded out of which 12 were rejected due to inadequate information.286 respondents came from 61 units of which 50 were either chemical or pharmaceutical.
- 67% respondents were in helper 40 or below.
- 45% had exposure of more than 15 years.
- 56.7% respondents were in helper category.
- 76% respondents said, There work environment remain dusty.
- 41% respondents were exposed to continue high noise level.
- 55.7% were surfing from skin problem.
7 industrial doctors were interviewed. A diagnosis camp was organized as a part of the study.
Trend of Fatal Accidents in Registered Factories in Gujarat : 1991-1995
No Fatal Accidents have kept rising in this period chemicals units contributed 20%-49% of Fatal Accidents. In Non-textile, Non-chemical group Bhavnagar district at Alang. The study also reveals how law is used for under reporting. Study of Prosecution Under Factories Act Done by Office of Factories Inspector Baroda in 1995, Published in Economic and Political Weekly, in 1999 No.3 & 4 It was revealed that public sector units are not prosecuted for any violations, deliberate efforts to play down violations by public sector or MNCs (Multinational Corporations). It was also revealed that no prosecutions were done for tragedy. Deliberate efforts of farming poor charges lead to low amount of fine.