LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Saturday was moved against emission of fatal silica powder by stone crushing factories in Punjab, causing serious mortal diseases to laborers.
Public Lawyers Front (PLF) filed the petition through advocate Raheel Kamran Sheikh, submitting that Tahir and Qaiser contracted silicosis during the course of their work at a stone crushing factory owned by Ashraf Ansari, located at Gujranwala. Both workers died of this occupational disease while other workers were seriously ill.
The petitioner said due to the absence of a dust control mechanism, a dust cloud is raised in the premises of the factory. The dust storm causes victims to inhale the silica powder.
After a year of continuous inhalation of the silica powder, some of the Victims frequently started suffering from high fever accompanied by acute cough. In most cases, even qualified doctors were unable to correctly diagnose the lung diseases, especially silicosis, because symptoms of silicosis are very similar to tuberculosis, the petitioner adds.
The petitioner said the death due to silicosis and similar occupational lung diseases was a common tragedy experienced by stone-crushing factory workers and their families not only in Gujranwala but all over Punjab, including cities like Lahore, Rawalpindi, and DG Khan, with many of the lives lost belonging to the same family or village.
The petitioner prayed the court to issue direction for constitution of a commission, to inquire into the number of fatalities that have directly resulted from contraction of occupational diseases at stone-crushing factories in Punjab, and the precautionary measures, adopted by stone-crushing factories to prevent diseases.
The petitioner further prayed that a fund for the payment of compensation, treatment, and rehabilitation of factory workers and their legal heirs be established. The commission should formulate guidelines for a prevention program and make recommendations for avoidance of such incidents where factory workers contract occupational diseases due to the negligence on the part of the government and factory owners.