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Pay more attention to silicosis: NHRC urges legislators and parliamentarians
A day-long conference organized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on silicosis for endemic States ended on Friday. The conference made several suggestions to ameliorate the cause of millions of workers, who due to exposure to silica dust fall victim to silicosis, which is an incurable disease of lungs and often confused with tuberculosis.

It was felt that the States needed to be more proactive and consistent in implementing the recommendations given by the NHRC to address the issue of silicosis.

It was also felt that a lot still needs to be done by the governments to bridge the gap between the intent, policies and delivery to prevent the causes of this disease among the workers in mines, quartz industry, construction sites, gem cutting, stone crushing, glass manufacturing, slate, ceramic and pencil industries.

"Their identification, medical and monetary relief and rehabilitation related issues are not getting properly addressed due the lack of uniformity in approach and coordination within various concerned government agencies including health, mines and labour departments," said the NHRC in a statement.  

The diagnosis of silicosis is not easy and there is still no survey done to find the exact number of persons affected with silicosis, though on the basis of some samples, it is believed that a large number of workers, in the silica generating vocations, are affected by it in different States and particularly those wherein mining is being done on a large scale. These include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Earlier, inaugurating the conference, Justice Cyriac Joseph, Member, NHRC said that building awareness about silicosis among legislators and parliamentarians is necessary to help them make laws and rules.

At the same time, he said that it is expected that they also acquaint themselves with the ground situation, studies and recommendations by the State Human Rights Commissions and the National Human Rights Commission about this life threatening disease through the reports submitted to State Assemblies and Parliament.

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