MK Devarajan, a former member of the Rajasthan Human Rights Commission and retired IPS, said: “The board should adopt a comprehensive agenda that addresses most of the pressing issues plaguing miners and areas affected by mining. At the same time, members should be selected based on their expertise and interest in the cause. Additionally, Devarajan said, “All board members should be free to express an unbiased opinion so that the board creates an impact, justifying the purpose of its formation.” Devarajan, who worked on miners’ issues during his time as a member of the RHRC, was instrumental in shaping policy on silicosis in the past.
Since the workers are not officially recognized by the companies, when they suffer from silicosis, they receive no support.
Without recognition of a mine worker, it was also difficult for them to convince the government to obtain the benefits offered in the silicosis policy. Rana Sengupta, Director of Mines Labor Protection Campaign, said, “More than 25 lakh workers are engaged in various mining activities at over 33,000 mines in the state. But in the absence of a council and in violation of mining policy rules, most workers have never been recognized as such. The board’s first priority should be to register them.
Sengupta said the council should have a say in how some of the District Mineral Fund Trust’s resources are spent. “Furthermore, currently the working conditions in the mines are not safe and healthy. The board should have a mechanism in place to ensure best practices are implemented for worker safety,” he added.