Kumar works in Manesar, India’s leading automobile hub, about 50 km from Delhi, in Haryana’s Gurgaon district. Around 80,000 workers work here at more than 600 companies, with a majority producing components for cars and bikes.
Last week over morning tea, as night-shift workers emerged bleary-eyed, and day-shift workers trooped in with their tiffin-boxes, the young man in his twenties told me stories of the scores of accidents he had seen in the years since he arrived from his village in Bihar.
“In every factory, you would find at least ten boys with broken fingers,” he said. “About half of the boys who’ve come from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to work in Haryana have lost their fingers.”
This sounded hyperbolic until I visited the hospital for workers run by the central government’s Employee’s State Insurance Corporation. Five patients sat in the orthopaedic department waiting for a doctor’s consultation. Four of them were cases of “crush injuries”.
“We see about 20 cases of crush injuries everyday,” said Dr Pankaj Bansal, the orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital. “In most cases, the fingers are auto-amputated, which means they have been lost even before the worker has come to us. In some cases, the entire hand is lost.”
Not just the orthopaedic department, even the emergency ward in the hospital sees a steady stream of crush injuries, which are also called cut injuries. The records examined by Scroll showed 20 cases in the ten days between November 19-28.
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