JAIPUR: On the road to Budhpura village in district Bundi district rise small hills. A closer inspection reveals these ‘hills’ are loose rubble piled up from decades of quarrying. At the mines here, the air is heavy with silica dust as men, women, children chip away at the slabs of stone. Bundi, along with Kota, accounts for 10 per cent of Rajasthan’s sandstone production.
Bhajan Lal used to work at one of these mines till a few years ago. In May this year the 35-year-old succumbed to silicosis, a deadly lung disease that is untreatable yet easily preventable. Mining workers contract the disease when exposed to silica -loose fine dust released when sandstone, granite or quartz are drilled out of the earth. Miners exposed to dust for about 10 years are vulnerable. It is worse for those who work on quartz; it takes as little as five years of exposure for silicosis to set in. Particles enter the lungs, gradually reducing lung function. There is no cure. Read more