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Bihar Health Secretary assures ‘necessary steps to help’ Bihari Workers of Alang beach, Gujarat

Written By Krishna on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | 9:38 PM

Press Release

Bihar Health Secretary assures ‘necessary steps to help’ Bihari Workers of Alang beach, Gujarat

Gujarat Govt shows unpardonable callousness towards migrants workers 

Patna/New Delhi/ 14/11/2012:  Responding to an urgent letter to Bihar Government towards the ongoing occupational deaths and diseases of migrants workers from Bihar on Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat in the hazardous ship breaking activity, Health Secretary will take steps for Bihari workers of Alang, Gujarat. It also drew attention towards a letter in this regard which was sent to the Chief Minister of Gujarat wherein unpardonable indifference towards death of 173 migrant workers during 2001-2012 has been pointed out. Both the letters are attached.  
 “We will take necessary steps to help our workers” informed Dr Vyasji, Principal Secretary, Health Department, Government of Bihar in a message to ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), a research and advocacy organisation on November 13, 2012 in the matter of occupational diseases and deaths of migrant workers from Bihar on Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. This was in response to a letter sent to Principal Secretary, Health Department and Principal Secretary, Labour Department by TWA.  

The has urged Bihar Government to inquire into the number of migrant workers from the State who work in the hazardous ship breaking yards on Alang beach to seek relief for the diseased and their family. This is required to ensure that the routine deaths of migrant workers from the State do not go unattended. It ought to consider getting the old cases of deaths of Bihari migrant workers on the Alang beach re-opened. The States' Labour Department ought to coordinate with its counterpart in Gujarat to probe the occupational diseases and deaths of Bihari Alang workers and made those who responsible for it liable for their acts of omission and commission. 

The letter revealed that workers from villages of Munger district like Katriea, Madreapur, Lakhanpur Sarganj, Wisanpur, Makwa, Mahanpur, Gharhara, Chotemaoali, Bahdepur, Chirnyabag, Baryarpur, Ratanpur, Balaahi and Purshottampur have been going to work in the hazardous industry at Alang. Workers from Gaya district go from villages like Despura, Bhadaya, Jagir, Jagir Bespura and Pahdea. Workers from villages of Saran district like Jumaighar, Jumaighar, Kedarposta, Jainawan and Domaeegarh have been working in the hazardous industry on Alang beach. 

It has urged the State Govt to seek a report from District Magistrates of Munger, Gaya and Chhapra about these workers.  The workers may be asked to register before leaving to work there to ensure that in cases of casualty or accidents District Administration can intervene to pursue their cases.    

It has come to light that in case of injury or death, the migrant workers are rarely compensated adequately. Narratives of local fishermen refer to dumping of workers bodies in the sea. Workers mention the use of violence by the local police against attempts of strikes by them over dispute about salary, safety, working and living conditions. This should be examined as well. A table indicating year wise deaths of migrant workers on Alang beach is attached.  

It is a fit case for the States' Human Rights Commission to take suo motto notice and ensure that the rights of migrant workers are protected. National Human Rights Commission should also intervene because two State Governments besides Central Govt is involved.

It is the duty of the State Govt to gather data of the migrant workers of the State who are involved in the ship breaking activity at Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat given the fact that they are globally recognized to be the most vulnerable workforce prone to highest number of accidental deaths and incurable occupational diseases.
TWA has urgently sought pro-active intervention to ensure that  migrant workers from Bihar get both medical and legal remedy besides just compensation and to ensure that the guilty officials and ship breakers are made accountable in an exemplary manner to set matters right.  

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb:08002263335, 9818089660, E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com

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