Silicosis

To ensure justice, medication and education for survival communities of Silicosis, Silico-Tuberculosis affected workers: Around four hundred people belonging to SC, ST and BC’s living in the nearby villages of Shad Nagar (Farooq Nagar) Mandal, Mahabubnagar Dist. worked in the quartz mines and crushing unit operated by the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation from 1965 to 1975.  During that period several workers, men and women had been exposed from light to heavy doses of silica. The management had retrenched the entire work   force between 1972 and 1975, on a false pretext of incurring losses due to power cuts and accumulated stocks. 

The workers who were illiterates did not know the consequences of the dreadful disease & suffered silently. Founder members of BDS happened to visit the area in 1990 and had observed the pathetic conditions of the families of the former APMDC workers and collected   material that was available and pieced together and approached authorities, elected representatives, Judiciary, and press for an appropriate action.  The workers one by one developed symptoms of silicosis and started dying after short medication at the private and Govt. hospitals including TB Sanatorium Vikarabad.  Many families have sold away their animals, and land for paying the medical bills.  More men died in the area because of higher exposure and it was thought that black magic was let loose on them and a few men have even beaten their wives thinking that they were behind the black magic.  Later people released that it was their stint at the mines was the reason for the morbidity and mortality. Till now around 300 people died of Silicosis since 1975.

Unfortunately all the doctors without delving into the disease pattern of the patients coming from the same region simply diagnosed the disease as TB and treated accordingly. BDS highlighted the issue of silicosis by facilitating to raise the issue in the Parliament, Legislative Assembly and taking it to the notice of National Human Rights Commission and Union Health Minister and Secretary. Finally with the intervention of National Human Rights Commission a committee of specialists constituted by the Director of Medical Education Govt. of Andhra Pradesh certified that the former workers are suffering from Silicosis/ Silico tuberculosis after a thorough medical examination, which was deliberately suppressed by the A P Government through the Medical Institutes and Hospitals since 1985. BDS also collaborated with Mediciti hospitals for establishing the disease among the former workers of APMDC. Based on the evidence from the two sources a writ was filed in the high court of Andhra Pradesh in the year 2000 by Human rights activist Dr. K. Bala Gopal (late). High Court of Andhra Pradesh has given final order to pay compensation as per the Workmen’s compensation Act in a writ filed in 2000.

 

Interactive meeting between the Silicosis victims &their dependents and APMDC Officials: 

On the request of BDS, Executive Director APMDC has visited the area & interacted with the silicosis affected and their dependents.  During the interaction the ED APMDC was appraised about the activities in the sheds and at the quarry site and difficulties faced by the affected and their dependents after the retrenchment in the early seventies.  APMDC has accepted the suggestion of BDS and requested the Collector, Mahabubnagar to submit a list of affected. A committee is formed to identify the affected. 

 

Widows of the Silicosis deceased pour out their vows before the APMDC officials.