Firozabad (Uttar Pradesh), July 23 : Firozabad is known all over the country for the quality of glass bangles produced here. But very few of those, who appreciate the colourful bangles, are aware of the conditions in which the bangle workers live and toil.
The workers every day face poisonous gases emitting out during the bangle manufacturing process. If they fall ill, the meager earnings are too little to enable them seek medical help.
Many local residents say that the workers breathe glass not air.
There are thousands of workers -- women and children -- engaged in the bangle industry. They are engaged either in the work of Sadai, straightening out the bangle or Judai, welding the joint of the bangle.
These two activities are considered quite harmful for health. Flames cause burns and gas fumes and glass dust blow right into the face of the workers.
"While working in front of the furnace, we have to put up with the heat. It is difficult, especially, in the summers. We develop a lot of ailments, like chest congestion, and consequent weakness," said Rafiuddin, one of the workers working inside the furnace.
"We earn around Rs. 50 per day .If we roll out 100 bundles, we earn approximately Rs. 450, which has to be evenly divided among the workers, " said Mahendra Pal, an artisan engaged into Judai work.
About 400 units are registered in Firozabad, preparing different types of glass products.
The small-scale glass bangle industry here is covered by the Employees State Insurance department clinics. "ESI in Firozabad provides free medical aid. If the present facilities are considered inadequate, the matter should be taken up with the ESI officer," said Madhur Singh, Assistant Labour officer, Firozabad.
In the meantime, the poor workers are getting their hands burnt and breath hot air. God know how long will they continue to do so? By Brajesh Kr. Singh