Reelers complain of toxic silk

Doctor fears possible loss of vision
Last Updated 07 January 2010, 18:06 IST

It all began a few days back when several silk reelers in this sericulture hub of the State developed soreness in their eyes when they were winding silk from the raw material. Soon they developed blurred vision. As many as nine labourers including three women become victims. All of tshem are totally dependent on silk reeling for their livelihood.

“During winding silk our eyes started to itch and tears started to roll down”, said Nanjundaswamy of Magadi, a silk reeler told this reporter on Thursday.

He was preparing to go on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala, but is now planning to put it of as both his eyes have been bandaged. His wife Mahalakshmi and mother of a little kid is also involved in the silk reeling. She too is suffering from soreness in the eyes. “My wife is pregnant, there is nobody to look after the little child”, he rued.

Chemical mixed

He suspects that the raw silk had been mixed with some chemical to increase its weight. “A few people had problem while washing the raw material itself”, he pointed out.

It has now come to light that a similar incident had been reported in the taluk last month. As many as 12 labourers had then developed eye problems. Another incident was reported in Bommasandra in Mahadevapura where several labourers developed eye soreness while winding silk.

Nanjundaswamy’s mother Siddalingamma points out that some days back a person left them a sample of raw silk. It was imported from China and the sample material was very good.

“We bought 30 kg of raw silk. They supplied the material at Rs 200 less per kg than the market rate. It was this raw silk that was contaminated”, she said.

Afzal, who runs a silk reeling unit in the taluk, said he bought raw silk from Bangalore.  “The raw silk was definitely contaminated for 12 labourers developed eye soreness. Their treatment in hospital cost us Rs 20,000”, he said.

Dr L S Malthesh of Sridhar Netralaya, who has been treating the victims said the workers had suffered from chemical burns in their eyes. “The victims need immediate treatment failing which there is a risk of losing vision”, he said.

“I used to earn Rs 1,200 per week reeling silk. The income has stopped following my eye problem”, complained Narasinghrao, a labourer.

(Published 07 January 2010, 18:05 IST)

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