MASUDA, AJMER: About 300 people gathered at a public hearing on problems faced by silicosis patients at Masuda block of Ajmer district. Many of them had come from nearby districts like Pali, hearing of this gathering. Officials of the local administration, block development officer Tarachand, the tehsildar and Karni Singh Jeswa of the labour department were present to hear out problems and suggest solutions. Mukesh Goswami of the Suchna Evum Rozgar Abhiyan began by raising a few slogans but the response was weak – long years of work at oppressive sites and compromised lung function seemed to have made those gathered incapable of robust sloganeering.

Thirty-year-old Ummed Kathat was certified silicosis-positive by the Pneumoconiosis Board in February this year. He has not yet received the Rs1 lakh grant that patients of this incurable disease are entitled to. He says his papers are doing the rounds between offices of different collectors. He has been told that documents first sent to Pali would now have to be submitted at Ajmer. He is not alone – almost all those gathered at the lawns in front of the public library at Masuda were silicosis positive. Almost all had still to receive compensation. Some also had death certificates of near relatives who had died after being confirmed silicosis positive – they had received neither the Rs1 lakh that the state government has promised patients nor Rs3 lakh granted to kin of people dying of the disease. Read more