Basudev Bhagat (55) is languishing in a private nursing home — the Singh Nursing Home — in Ghatsila in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. He is yet another silicosis patient staring at death.
Silicosis is a condition caused by inhaling too much silica over a long period of time. Silica is a crystal-like mineral found in sand and rocks. It can have deadly consequences for people who work with stone, concrete, glass, or other forms of rock.
Ironically, till date, the national human rights commission (NHRC) has not received a comprehensive report on silicosis deaths that it had sought from the state by February 28. This, when the disease is common in the district.
Bhagat is among 20 silicosis patients that Occupation Safety and Health Association of Jharkhand (OSHAJ) has been sending to the state director-in- chief of health since December 20, 2013. One such patient, Salkhu Murmu, died on December 30 here at the Ganga Nursing Home, taking the death toll to 40 in the district so far.
The NHRC had exempted state chief secretary from personal appearance on January 31 on the condition that the state would file the report by February 28. The commission is still awaited the report. A resident of Rugrisai village under Kendadih panchayat, Bhagat was admitted in the nursing home on February 21. He has three sons and two daughters and was detected as a silicosis patient at Meherbhai Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital on February 10, 2012, while the International Labour Organisation (ILO) ratings of his x-ray plates at Belur ESI hospital confirmed the same on May 26, 2012.
Six more patients in the list continue to stare at death. As per OSHAJ petition to the health director and NHRC, another 16 are suffering from the disease, and 135 others are affected by silica dust – all engaged in two quartz grinding units of KK Industries and KK Minerals in Musaboni, 60 km from Jamshedpur.
“It is a matter of regret that in spite of several efforts made by OSHAJ, no medical investigation is conducted till date,” secretary general of OSHAJ Samit Carr wrote in his letter to the state health director.