JAIPUR: Rajasthan has launched a special policy to tackle the scourge of Silicosis, one of the most serious health hazards for mining workers in India. As a part of its week-long celebrations to mark Gandhi’s 150th Birth anniversary, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot launched a Silicosis policy on Thursday to address this serious health issue in mining areas of the state.
After Haryana, Rajasthan has become the second state to have a Silicosis Policy and speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said the state government would make efforts to ensure that no one suffered from the disease. "The policy has many provisions which will provide relief to affected people," Gehlot claimed. Earlier this year, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot spoke up on the issue of silicosis and asserted that “our government is serious about the issue of silicosis in mining areas. We would surely make efforts to free the state from this disease.” The silicosis policy now marks a concrete step towards this.
Among the provisions of the policy, silicosis patients and their families can avail a number of social security benefits such as pensions and health coverage. This will also include a rehabilitation package of three lakh rupees for Silicosis victims. It also has provisions for the creation of a safe working environment to lower the silicosis risk among miners in the state which has an estimated 22,000 silicosis patients. Between three and ten million Indians are at risk of developing the disease, caused by the inhalation of dust containing silica. Inhalation of this dust over time can cause scarring and hardening of lung tissue, which is irreversible and has also been linked to a heightened risk of developing lung cancer.
“Earlier, the government’s responsibility was limited to providing grants to silicosis patients,” Akhil Arora, principal secretary of the state social justice and empowerment department, explained when the policy was announced. “Under the new policy, however, the role of the government would be to prevent the disease by enforcing a certain kind of work environment at the construction, stone crushing and mining sites. This is a major shift in the emphasis of the government.”