ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Silicosis in Rajasthan

The Trajectory of Policy Response

Silicosis, one of the world’s oldest and commonest occupational diseases, has not received adequate policy attention in India. Sustained campaigns by national and state human rights bodies along with non-governmental organisations over the past decade have resulted in greater awareness and some relief in the form of detection and monetary compensation to affected workers. However, preventive measures at the workplace and punitive action against defaulting employers are still a far cry. In this regard, the Rajasthan Policy on Pneumoconiosis is a pioneering move by any state government.

The authors have drawn on several official as well as unpublished reports and documents to which one of them had access as member of the Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission. The authors also acknowledge with thanks the contribution made by the referee, whose comments and additional sources of information enabled them to further elaborate on some points. The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not their current or previous organisations.

On 10 June 2019, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, in his budget speech, announced his government’s intention to introduce a silicosis policy for the state, adding that a special law would be enacted for this purpose, if needed. Living up to his promise, and going a step further, on 2 October 2019, Gehlot unveiled the “Rajasthan Policy on Pneumoconiosis including Silicosis Detection, Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation” (henceforth pneumoconiosis policy) (Asnani 2019; GoR 2019). It was the culmination of several admirable steps taken by the Government of Rajasthan (GoR) since 2013 to detect silicosis cases and give monetary assistance to the affected. Rajasthan, apart from Haryana, is the only state in the country that has shown considerable responsiveness to the problem of silicosis in the past decade.

Silicosis is an occupational lung disease affecting workers engaged in a wide variety of occupations. Though it is the oldest known, commonest and deadliest occupational disease, authorities of developing nations, including India, have not taken adequate steps to address this problem.

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Updated On : 5th Jun, 2021
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