The scrapping of labour laws is beginning to show its effects. 130 workers died in factory accidents in Gujarat in the first seven months of 2020.
According to a report published on the Indian Express, 57 per cent of workers’ deaths have been due to accidents after the relaxation of lockdown.
According to the Director of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH), an office that comes under the Labour Ministry, there have been 89 factory accidents between January and July, in Gujarat. In these accidents, 130 workers have lost their lives.
Out of these, 51 accidents occurred between April and July, and 74 workers lost their lives.
Six labourers died in April and May. The maximum number of deaths occurred in June and July. In the 18 accidents that occurred in June, 37 workers died. 22 workers died in July.
According to the Indian Express, “The Director of DISH P.M Shah has said that compared to last year, there have been fewer factory accidents in the months of April and July”.
After the relaxation of lockdown, the biggest factory accident took place in Gujarat. There was a boiler blast in a factory of Yashashwi Rasayan Private Limited in Dahej, Gujarat, in which 10 workers died and 50 workers were injured.
After this huge accident, DISH shut down the company and gave an order for verification of safety measures taken by all factories in Dahej.
A case has been registered against the fire safety head along with 7 other people from Yashasvi Rasayan Pvt. Ltd for involuntary manslaughter.
The accused appealed for bail to the Gujarat High Court which the Court rejected in August.
While there was another fire in Sanand factory, there were no casualties, but the Japanese diaper manufacturing company was burnt to ashes and it took 24 hours to control the fire.
In order to reduce factory accidents, DISH has organised a special Safety month, for spreading awareness about safety measures.
Chemical factories will be the focal point of Major Accident Hazard (MAH) while conducting the awareness campaign for reducing factory accidents.
MAH has identified 529 chemical factories and included 7000 small factories from Gujarat in the list. Bharuch, Vadodara, Ahmadabad, Surat, Kuchh, and Valsad districts are included in this list.
According to the data, the Labour Ministry has to give around 8.71 crores to the families of the workers who have died in factory accidents in 2020. This includes the families of 130 workers. The process for giving them compensation has been held up due to the lockdown.
Shah said that most courts are closed in the month of March. The compensation will be given to the families of the workers through the labour court, but even the labour court is shut due to the lockdown.
He then said that after the Labour Court, the process of compensation is the responsibility of the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). The process is ongoing there.
President of Sanand company Ajit Shah said that they have been asking for fire safety for the past six years but have not received any offer from the government.
He then said, “Ahmedabad is a manufacturing hub and it is not possible that there will be no fire accidents in the industrial areas of Ahmedabad”.
Workers at factories had this to say that there are many factories in Gujarat and they questioned whether the government’s safety campaign will reach all the factories.
According to the Indian Express, in the last two years, factory accidents in Gujarat have reduced. In 2017, there were 230 factory accidents. In 2018, there were 236, while in 2019, it had come down to 188.
This article was originally published in Workers Unity in Hindi. It has been translated to English by Damayanti Saha.