Rajasthan: Debt-ridden silicosis patient on death bed

Times of India city | August 29, 2019

Jaipur: He is only 29-year-old, but is struggling for every breath. Belonged to a family with limited sources of income, Jai Singh is now debt-ridden as he has to spend Rs500-1,000 per day to buy clean oxygen to inhale.

In 2016, when Singh was just 27 years old, he was diagnosed with silicosis, a disease which causes scarring on the lungs. Now, as his condition deteriorated, doctors of a private hospital in Udaipur advised him to remain on oxygen support. He is a resident of Dabi village of Bundi district.

We have brought one oxygen concentrator at Rs500 per day paid as its daily charges. Also, we have to arrange an oxygen cylinder, as oxygen concentrator requires electric supply. In case of power cuts, we have to use oxygen cylinders,” said Parmila Devi, Singh’s wife. Father of three children, Singh is leading life under debt. “In 2017, the government provided us Rs1 lakh for treatment. But, we needed more money for treatment. We have borrowed Rs 3 lakh from villagers on 2% interest,” said his father, Karan Singh.

When he started working in sandstone mines, he had no idea that he would get silicosis so early. “He was getting Rs 500 per day and that was enough for the family. But, all of a sudden, he started complaining of breathlessness and later he was diagnoses with silicosis,” said his father.

Jai Singh is not the only one person, who is leading painful life after being diagnosed with the disease. “There are 26,000 mine workers in the state, who have already been diagnosed with silicosis. Earlier, these workers were getting Rs1 lakh as compensation and recently, the government has increased it to Rs 2 lakh, which is not enough for them,” said Rana Sengupta, managing trustee of Mine Labour Protection Company Trust, who works for silicosis patients. More than 100 silicosis patients presented memorandum to district collector Bundi on Tuesday, demanding more benefits to silicosis patients. In Bundi and Bhilwara area, mining is rampant and a large number of workers are employed risking their life. However, state government is taking measures to benefit the mine workers.

Directorate of mines and geology on Monday issued directions to all its officials in the state to ensure that wet drilling and mask should be used in mining. In the direction, it was emphasised that cases of silicosis among mine workers are being reported, in this regard, wet drilling and mask have already been made compulsory.