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In India's quarries, workers die to make pretty garden tiles

May 9, 2016

In India's quarries, workers die to make pretty garden tiles

by Rina Chandran
Monday, 9 May 2016 12:03 GMT

BUDHPURA, India, May 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Amid the ancient forts and stunning palaces of India's Rajasthan state is a less alluring sight: hundreds of workers in stone quarries, many dying of silicosis from cutting and polishing the sandstone tiles that adorn gardens and patios here and abroad.

Much of the sandstone used in kitchen counter tops and as cobblestones comes from the state's Kota and Bundi districts, where workers toil under extreme conditions, with hardly any protective gear and for very little money.

About half the state's 2 million mine workers suffer from silicosis or other respiratory diseases, according to labour rights campaigners.

Although there is no comprehensive data, hundreds, possibly thousands, have died of silicosis, an incurable lung disease caused by long-term exposure to silica dust given off in the mining and processing of sandstone and limestone.

Rajasthan's human rights commission last year asked the state government to modernise mining and conduct regular medical tests to contain the disease. Activists say the state must also do more to ensure there are no child workers, whose vulnerable bodies are even more susceptible to silicosis.

Read more at the Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

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