BABU DAMA – Accident in Cotton Gin

May 10, 2012 in Victim Story

Babu Nemabhai Dama is 21 old young boy resident of tribal village called Kakan in Sagwada (Rishabhdev Taluka, Rajasthan). When I asked him what do you do, he stared at me. His father helped me, saying, “what else will he do now, he is grazing the goats. Who will feed him rotla (local bread) if he does not work.” Babu looked disappointed when I asked another question if he is married. Again it was his family members replying me, “who will marry him now. I was visiting this distant village in hilly terrain. Babu was on another hill, when we reached climbing up this hill. He was informed through someone’s mobile of our arrival. We were told that he has started coming and it will take at least one and half hours to reach here. No transport available and one has to walk the distance. After taking few snaps here & there I took long nap before he reached.

Mystery of ‘Now’ was not confusing as we already knew that Babu is accident victim. He used to go to work in Cotton Gin is neighboring State Gujarat since last 4 years. Cotton gin is a seasonal business. After October-November it starts working and works till May or some till June. Cotton is separated from cotton seed by passing it through rollers and packed in bales using hydraulic press. Some gins extract oil from cotton seeds to manufacture cotton seed oil and byproduct is cattle feed. In his 4 year experience he never met with accident.

He was employed by Malguru Gin in Nani Kadi area in Kadi as daily wager through Ambalal contractor. He was paid Rs. 80/- per day for 12 hour work.

It was 21 February (2009).He started working at 7 in the morning. He was working at a height on conveyor belt. There was not enough space to stand and work on side platform of conveyor. Water was being sprinkled at that stage on the conveyor as next process was to feed cotton to hydraulic press to prepare bale. Platform was not guarded and was open on one side. Worker would hold a iron rod with one hand welded with roof for support and clean the belt with another hand. How risky!

He had to visit this location every 1 or 2 hours to clear clogged conveyor. First he went at 8 am and again at 10 am to clear the belt. At 12 he took lunch break. Workers are provided free residential quarters for their stay, within the campus. Before resuming duty in the morning, workers prepare food in the early morning which is consumed during lunch for lunch time. Accordingly he went for lunch.

After coming back it was again time to climb up the conveyor and clean the belt. It was about 1.30 pm when he was cleaning the belt with broom and the broom got entangled in pulley and got pulled in and with broom his right hand too, got pulled in. He was wearing full sleeve shirt. Many  people have habit of keeping their cuff open leaving the ends of the cuff hanging & protruding out. These hanging cuff ends can easily get caught in pulley nip. He cried for help. He even could see his own cut-off hand from shoulder moving over the conveyor on the other side. Co-workers rushed and switched off the conveyor.

He was brought down and taken to the hospital of Dr. Kubavat by employer’s car. After primary treatment he was shifted to a private nursing home in Ahemdabad. He was discharged after 10-12 days. He stayed in the factory for few more days for follow up dressing rounds.

During this stay he was neither paid any wages nor daily expenses. He used to get it from friends and relatives. He claims to have spent `.25000/- over treatment and stay in Kadi after accident. He was asked to continue the job but with one hand gone he was finding it difficult to wash clothes, prepare food and other daily domestic chores. Since he was lone he himself had to take care of all these. He had decline the offer. He was not yet married. Family had plan to get him married after Holi which was very near. Accident took place few days before Holi festival (festival of colors very popular in Rajasthan). Now family has no hopes of finding suitable bride for him. Now, he can not help family in agricultural activities and has to contend with taking goats to graze. Babu studied up to 5th at local school. His father has 6 children. Babu is second eldest.

He was taken to an organization helping get prosthesis but as stump is not available where prosthesis can be fitted, it was not possible.

He was paid `.2.52 lakh toward compensation under W.C.Act. He paid `.2500/- to the lawyer towards his fees. PRAYAS (voluntary organization working with these workers) staff helped him claim compensation.