On Thursday 19th March, FIAN Rajasthan attended a conference in Delhi on Occupational Health and Safety. Secretary of the charity, Mr. Rajendra Kumar, spoke at the conference, addressing the audience about the difficulties faced by FIAN Rajasthan regarding the prevalence of silicosis sufferers in mining communities. Accompanying him were a woman, Moti, and a man, Santosh, both from migrant families in the mining community of Soorsagar, Jodhpur, where FIAN Rajasthan does much of its advocacy work on silicosis.
Moti is a widow, her husband having died a year ago from silicosis contracted from inhaling toxic dust in the mines. He leaves behind 4 young children, who Moti struggles to support with her meager income of Rs. 1000 per month as a cook. Santosh, on the other hand, is only 21 but was diagnosed with the disease a year ago. He has been working in the mines since he was 9 years old.
Both Moti and Santosh are entitled to compensation from the Government, but neither has received it and struggle to get by. Moti is facing the threat of having to pull her children out of school, knowing that their only prospect if she does so is to work in the mines like their father. Santosh's disease leaves him weak and unable to do hard manual labour, but he continues to work in the mines to the detriment of his health because he needs to provide for his pregnant wife and 3 year old son.
FIAN Rajasthan hopes that by publicly addressing the issue and demonstrating the detrimental effects on an inefficient government scheme, change can be brought to mining communities like Soorsagar, both to prevent further cases of silicosis and to protect those like Santosh and Moti who have already felt its effects.
Soorsagar, Jodhpur, 19th March 2015.