Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Ban-Asbestos-India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union leader Purnendu Majumadar. It has been working for last 17 years. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. For Details: krishnagreen@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

BANI co-founder to speak at George Washington University during Annual International Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conference

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) co-founder Gopal Krishna will be speaking at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University at the 15th Annual International Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conference during April 5-7, 2019. He will speak during the conference on “Deadly Propaganda: Asbestos Imports, Use and Deaths”. BANI has been working for asbestos free India since 2000. 

ADAO's 15th Annual International Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conference on April 5 - 7, 2019 in Washington, DC http://bit.ly/2Va0u2019AAPC 


Deadly Propaganda: Asbestos Imports, Use and Deaths || “Breathless” Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion at George Washington University on Thursday, April 4, 2019 http://bit.ly/2QvgZZs
Formed in 2002, BANI is working with concerned villagers, city folks, peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. 
BANI seeks accountability from public institutions, criminal liability for companies besides preventive and medico-legal remedy for victims of asbestos related diseases. BANI’s struggle with Khet Bachao Jeewan Bachao Jansangharsh committeeand Paryawarn Bachao  Jeewan Bachao Sangharsh Samiti  in  the  remote villages  of Bihar led to the stoppage of the  asbestos based plants in Bihar:
Tamil Nadu based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd’s Plant at GiddhaAraBhojpur
Telangana based Hyderabad Industries Ltd’s plant at Kumarbagh Industrial Area, West Champaran
West Bengal based Balmukund Cement & Roofings Ltd’s at Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur
West Bengal based Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL)’s Plant at GoraulVaishali
Rajasthan based A Infrastructure Ltd’s  Plant at Pandaul Industrial Area, Madhubani
BANI has been working for asbestos free shipping, ship breaking/recycling industry and seeking ban on asbestos laden talc powder.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Supreme Court to hear Criminal Appeal in Defamation case involving Google & website of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) on 12th March amidst asbestos ban in some 70 countries


Undue influence of asbestos industry lobby makes central and state Govts think adverse health impacts of carcinogenic Indian Asbestos and Russian Asbestos are different

Drugs Controller of India asked by NHRC to reply in the matter of ongoing exposure of Indians to carcinogenic asbestos fibers contaminated Talc powder in India by 8th March 2019

February 18, 2019: The criminal appeal in the defamation case against Google involving writings of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) on its website- www.asbestosfreeindia.org is scheduled for hearing on 12th March, 2019. The matter had come up for hearing before the Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K.M. Joseph on 12th February, 2019. Prior to this, in the order dated 10th November, 2016, Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy had directed Attorney General to assist the Court in a case involving the liability of intermediaries like Google.
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has been working for Asbestos Free India since 2000. The world’s biggest asbestos importing country, India is refusing to comply with Supreme Court’s 24 year old judgment in the face of ongoing deaths of some 30 Indians every day. Court had passed the order paving way for asbestos free India in Writ Petition (Civil) N. 206 of 1986, January 27, 1995. BANI is seeking compliance with the six directions of the Court. But donation from asbestos companies to ruling parties has ensured that Court’s verdict is not complied with. Such donation has compromised the autonomy of National Institute of Occupation Health (NIOH) which was entrusted by the Court to certify victims of asbestos - related diseases.  Since 2000,
Unlike NIOH which has admittedly conducted scientifically and ethically questionable study at the behest of the asbestos industry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has “informed that major health hazards of asbestos include cancer of lung, mesothelioma of pleura and peritoneum and specific fibrous disease of lung known as asbestosis. All types of asbestos fibers are responsible for human mortality and morbidity….Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes, (DGFASLI) under Ministry of Labour & Employment has intimated data of workers suffering from Asbestosis in factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948.As per the information provided by DGFASLI, it is informed that 21 no. of Asbestosis cases were reported in Gujarat in 2010 and 2 cases in Maharashtra in the year 2012”. This has been shared by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in a written reply in the Parliament.
BANI works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. It has been demanding criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. BANI’s work is not driven by any corporate donor or any programme under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  
The case is related to the articles published on www.asbestosfreeindia.org, a Google supported site. The respondent in this case is Visakha Industries, which is engaged in business of manufacturing and selling of asbestos cement sheets and allied products. Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral fiber banned in some 70 countries. Visakha is a member of Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association (ACPMA), which represents the interests of the Indian asbestos industry. ACPMA has been spreading the misinformation and falsehood about the possibility of safe and controlled use of chrysotile asbestos. The world’s scientific and medical community has overwhelmingly concluded that chrysotile asbestos causes deadly diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung and other cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have called for an end to all use of chrysotile asbestos in order to prevent further tragic epidemics of asbestos-related diseases.
It is significant that the Ministry of Mines has informed that “the Grant of fresh mining leases and renewal of existing mining leases for Asbestos are presently banned in the country on Health Grounds”. Government had imposed this ban on mining of all kinds of asbestos in 1986. Since 2015, India has not produced any asbestos mineral. India has also banned trade in asbestos waste (dust and fibers) under Environment Protection Act, 1986 and UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. Unmindful of the fact that some 70 countries have banned all kinds of asbestos including white chrysotile asbestos, India is yet to impose ban on trade in raw asbestos, manufacturing of asbestos based products and its use. The core scientific question is: how can Indian asbestos be poisonous but Russian asbestos is not. India is the biggest importer of Russian asbestos. Can Indian Cyanide and Russian Cyanide have different health impacts? Russia is the biggest supplier of asbestos to India.
Meanwhile, Drugs Controller of India has been asked by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to reply in the matter of ongoing exposure of Indians to carcinogenic asbestos fibers contaminated Talc powder in India by 8th March 2019. BANI is part of efforts to ban such asbestos laden products in order to safeguard lives of present and future generations.  
In a bizarre incident, suspicious packages with white powder were found at India's Consulate and other missions in Australia. Some of the packets were marked 'Asbestos' and sent to several Indian missions after which authorities evacuated the facilities and launched an investigation. Australian Federal Police informed Press Trust of India in January 2019. Notably, Australia is one of some 70 countries that have banned totally banned asbestos of all kinds.
Disregarding incontrovertible scientific evidence against asbestos, India has been importing asbestos from asbestos producers like Russia and Kazakhstan. On an average, India has been consuming 340,000 tons of asbestos annually. The major products imported by India from Kazakhstan during 2016-17 included asbestos, 6 per cent of India's total asbestos import.  India consumed 473,000 tons in 2012, 303,000 tons in 2013, 379,000 tons in 2014, 370,000 tons in 2015 and 308,000 tons in 2016. It is estimated that worldwide consumption of asbestos minerals decreased from approximately 2 million tons in 2010 to nearly 1.4 million tons in 2016. India has not undertaken any comprehensive evaluation of asbestos to identify its end uses, exposure pathways, and environmental and human health hazards. But lack of data does not mean absence of victims of asbestos related diseases.  
In a March 2018 paper titled “Trends and the Economic Effect of Asbestos Bans and Decline in Asbestos Consumption and Production Worldwide” published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Lucy P. Allen, Jorge Baez, Mary Elizabeth C. Stern, Ken Takahashi, and Frank George have concluded that “….the shift away from asbestos has not had an observable persistent negative economic impact, continued use of asbestos is expected to result in substantial costs, including health costs as well as remediation/removal costs and potential litigation costs.”
In a significant development, Hyderabad Industries Limited (HIL), one of the key members of Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association (ACPMA) has launched asbestos-free roofing product- Charminar Fortune. The delay on the part of other members of ACPMA amounts to causing incurable diseases and deaths which were preventable.  

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Letter to CDSCO seeking ban on carcinogenic asbestos fibers contaminated Talc powder


ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
To
Drugs Controller General of India
Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO),
Directorate General of Health Services
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,
Government of India
FDA Bhavan, ITO, Kotla Road,
New Delhi -110002

Date: December 20, 2018

Subject- Seeking ban on carcinogenic asbestos fibers contaminated Talc powder of Johnson & Johnson and other companies in India

Sir,      
This is to draw your urgent attention towards the relevance of investigative report titled “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder” published on December, 14, 2018 for protecting the human rights of Indians. The investigation was conducted by Reuters, a 167 year old international news agency headquartered in London. This investigative report is consistent with the findings of a study by India’s Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (IITR), Lucknow, a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India on “Exposure risk to contaminants in pharmaceutical and cosmetic powders” has found that “There are different types of cosmetic powders such as body powder, baby powder, face powder, eye shadow and powdered blush as well as pharmaceutical powders available in the market. Both the sexes of all age groups are using these powders. These are talc - based. Talc is a mineral product and often contaminated with asbestos fibres.” It is significant that CDSCO’s official function includes banning “Drugs and Cosmetics”.
In view of these scientific findings, I wish to draw your attention towards Schedule S of the Rules [read with Rule 150-A], Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (last amended in 1995). Referring to Standards for cosmetics in finished form fixed by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for “Skin Powders and Skin Powder for infants”, it is stated that these “cosmetics in finished form shall conform to the Indian Standards specifications laid down from time to time by the [Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)]”. This standard covers two types of powder, namely, body powder and face powders. Body powders include products which are commonly known as talcum powders, dusting powders, toilet powders and deodorant powders. BIS issued has two separate revised Indian Standard (IS) notifications for Skin Powders and Skin Powder for Infants namely, IS 3959:2004 and IS 5339:2004. These standards were originally issued in 1966 and 1969 respectively. Both were first revised in 1978.  The composition of the BIS’s Cosmetics Section Committee and SkinCare Products Subcommittee which finalized both the standards is quite revealing. Both the committees have Dr Prashant Abhvankar on behalf of Johnson & Johnson. In such a backdrop, it is startling that the Indian standards for the powders make no mention of asbestos mineral fiber although it does provide for determination of Arsenic, tests for heavy metals etc.  
The notification on “Skin Powder for Infants-Specification”, it is stated that “In composition, skin powders for infants do not differ greatly from those intended for adults.”
Given the fact that it has been admitted in the notifications that “No stipulations have been made in this standard regarding composition of skin powders”, it emerges that the separateness of the composition of both the adult powders and infant powders is apparently a fiction for marketing purposes.  
It is important to note that both BIS notifications state that “it is necessary that the raw materials used are such that in the concentrations in which they would be present in the finished skin powder, after interaction with other raw materials used in the formulation, they are free from any harmful effects” but they confine themselves to dermatological safety. It underlines that “It shall be the responsibility of the manufacturers of skin powders to satisfy themselves of the dermatological safety of their formulation before releasing the product for sale.” They maintain a studied silence about harmful effects of the powder in question on lungs, ovary and other internal organs.
A careful perusal of the relevant legal provisions, Indians Standards and IITR study reveals the glaring loophole in the existing legal provisions, given the fact that it has been conclusively been established in scientific and medical literature that Talc and asbestos co-exist and safe and controlled use of all kinds of asbestos is impossible. Talc, like asbestos, is a silicate mineral fiber that has been studied in relation to cancer risk. Talc  refers  to  both  mineral  talc  and  industrial  mineral  products  that  are  marketed under the name talc and contain proportions of mineral talc that range from about 35% to almost 100%. As  it  is  soft  to  the  touch  and  inert,  talc has  been  valued  for  centuries  as  a  body powder.  Today,  it  also  plays  an  important  role  in  many  cosmetic  products,  including products  for  feminine  hygiene  and  baby  powders,  and  provides  the silkiness  in  blushes, powder  compacts  and  eye  shadows,  the  transparency  of  foundations  and  the  sheen  of beauty creams. In pharmaceutical products, talc is an important excipient that is used as a glidant,   lubricant   and   diluent.   Soap   manufacturers   also   use   talc   to   enhance   the performance of skin care products.
The use of body powder has been prevalent in infants and woman. The use of body powder for feminine hygiene has been studied. Body powder is applied perineally, on napkins or  on  underwear.  Dusting  of  the  perineum  after  bathing  appears  to  be  the  most frequent  single  type  of  application,  but simultaneous  uses  have  also  been  reported. The  exposure  may  occur  as  a  result of  storing  a  diaphram  in  body  powder  or contamination from the male partner who has used body powder. Talc is used as a surface lubricant on the majority of condoms manufactured; contact with condoms may also represent a direct means of exposure of the female genital tract to talc.
Exposure  to  talc  can  also  occur  during  surgical  procedures  when  using  powdered gloves. Talc particles were observed in the navels of small children, in the testes, on the vocal  cords,  in  the  urinary  bladder  tract  and  after  removal  of  varicous  veins.  During breast implantations, it is possible that talc from surgical gloves can lead to unwanted encapsulation. The  Food  Chemical  Codex  (2003)  provides specifications  for  food-grade  talc including  the  statement  that “talc  derived  from  deposits  that  are  known  to  contain associated  asbestos  is  not  food  grade.” 
(Reference: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 93, Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), World Health Organization, 2010, https://monographs.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/mono93.pdf)
I submit that as per World Health Organisation (WHO), “All types of asbestos cause cancer in humans Asbestos (actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, crocidolite and tremolite) has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as being carcinogenic to humans. Exposure to chrysotile, amosite and anthophyllite and to mixtures containing crocidolite results in an increased risk of lung cancer. Mesotheliomas have been observed after occupational exposure to crocidolite, amosite, tremolite and chrysotile, as well as among the general population living in the neighbourhood of asbestos factories and mines and in people living with asbestos workers. The incidence of asbestos-related diseases is related to fibre type, size and dose and to industrial processing of the asbestos.” It categorically states that “No threshold has been identified for the carcinogenic risk of asbestos, including chrysotile. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of lung cancer from asbestos exposure.”
(Reference: Elimination of asbestos related diseases, Updated March 2014 https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/Elimination_asbestos-related_diseases_EN.pdf)
Given conclusive evidence about impossibility of safe and controlled use of all kinds of asbestos, it is indefensible that the  Cosmetic,  Toiletry,  and  Fragrances  Association  stated  that all  cosmetic  talc  should contain at least 90% platy talc (hydrated magnesium silicate) that is free from detectable amounts  (<0 .5="" span="" style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  of  fibrous,  asbestos  minerals under the  voluntary  guidelines it had initiated  in  1976, Indian Standards remain so backward that it does not even make a mention of asbestos in its notification on Skin Powders. It has adopted Ostrich policy with regard to the grave health hazards from asbestos of all kinds.
It is apparent that Indians Standards and legal provisions have remained blind to numerous possibilities of exposure. It emerges from it that health hazards from Talc is confined to skin powder alone. Studies have found the harmful effects of asbestos laden Talc powder.
The aim of the IITR study “was to investigate the safety of such powders being sold in the market, initially by analyzing the asbestos content. Five branded samples of talcum powder were analysed and all were found contaminated with asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibre contamination in these powders ranged from 10.3 – 15.4%. Fibre length study on two samples revealed that asbestos fibres were 22.8 – 34.7%, 48.2 – 55.1% and 17.1 – 22.1% in the range of <10 10="" 20="" and="" m=""> 20┬Ám, respectively. The study indicates risk of human exposure to asbestos through the use of naturally contaminated talcum powder. It is noteworthy that asbestos takes many years to cause asbestosis and carcinogenic malignancies which are irreversible. It also necessitates a regular monitoring and surveillance on all the cosmetic and pharmaceutical powders being marketed for asbestos contamination.” This has been published in the Annual Report Annual Report 2005-2006 of IITR. IITR is accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for chemical and biological testing and is recognized for GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) toxicity testing.
(Reference: http://www.itrcindia.org/ITRC_Annual_Report_2005-06.pdf)
The investigation by Reuters corroborates the findings of IITR. This recent investigation was undertaken in the wake of three verdicts in New Jersey, California and St. Louis awarding compensation to plaintiffs who blamed asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson talc products for their mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs. The connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was discovered in the 1970s. The third verdict was a watershed in in St. Louis: The 22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a longtime brand the company sold in 2012 that caused ovarian cancer, which is much more common than mesothelioma. The jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used Johnson and Johnson talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant. The inclusion of ovarian cancer besides mesothelioma has broadened the potential liability of Johnson & Johnson, a 132 year old multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.
Earlier, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article titled “Jury awards $4.7bn damages against Johnson & Johnson in talcum cancer case” published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ). As per BMJ’s article, “More than 9000 former US talcum customers have lodged suits against the company. Most claim damages for ovarian cancer, but some allege that using the product led them to develop mesothelioma. The award is by far the biggest yet against Johnson and Johnson in litigation relating to talcum powder and the first case in which plaintiffs alleged that asbestos in talcum powder caused their disease. The verdict was handed down in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis.
((Reference: BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3135)
I submit that this investigative report is of deep relevance for the public health of present and future generation of Indians given the fact that Johnson & Johnson company has admittedly been in India for last 70 years. The company has brought many products in consumer healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. In 1947, Johnson & Johnson expanded into India, marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder. In September 1957, Johnson & Johnson incorporated as a legal entity in India. The production in its first manufacturing facility began in 1959 at the Johnson & Johnson India plant in Mulund, Mumbai, for Johnson’s Baby Powder and other specialized products. In 1968, the company introduces the Stayfree brand to India. A situation emerged wherein Johnson & Johnson reached almost every household in India.  
The Reuters investigative report refers to the findings of Dr. Irving J. Selikoff who had conclusively established a link between the inhalation of asbestos particles and lung-related ailments in the 1960s itself that paved the way for ban on asbestos of all kinds in some 60 countries. Dr. Selikoff was the director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Division of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. It is significant that Ms Lisa Girion of Reuters has shared the official documents on the basis of which she has made these startling claims in her investigative report.  
(Reference: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/)
I wish to point out that in a Terms of Reference dated October 25, 2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry for a proposed Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000 Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries Limited made reference to "talc and chrysotile”.
Prior to the Reuters report, a 2014 paper published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health titled "Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women" by Ronald E Gordon et al concluded "we found that a specific brand of talcum powder contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application. We also found that asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the same cosmetic talc product were present in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this brand of talc powder and developed and died from mesothelioma. This study was published in October 2014.
(Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/)
This investigation by Reuters reveals that “Johnson & Johnson developed a strategy in the 1970s to deal with a growing volume of research showing that talc miners had elevated rates of lung disease and cancer: Promote the positive, challenge the negative. That approach was summed up by a J&J applied research director in a “strictly confidential” March 3, 1975, memo to managers of the baby products division, which used the talc in J&J’s signature Baby Powder. Its approach reads: “Our current posture with respect to the sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation,” the memo said. “This philosophy, so far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.” It reveals that scientific ghostwriters have been hired for long to hide evidence of “cancer concern associated with exposure to talc.” Based on an Italian study, one such ghost authored article that appeared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in 1976 found no mesothelioma, the signature cancer of asbestos exposure. The Italian study in question has been updated three times – in 1979, 2003 and 2017 – “confirming the lack of association between exposure to asbestos-free talc, lung cancer and mesothelioma.” The investigative underlines that Johnson & Johnson got a lot of mileage out of the study. It was cited in a review article titled “The Biology of Talc,” published Nov. 1, 1976, in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.
(Reference: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/77df/7030e57e91ee73c8e313d6b54e0ea0b7c498.pdf)
In addition to dozens of published studies, the review cited unpublished research, including one experiment that used a doll as a proxy for infants and that supported the company’s position on the safety of talc. It didn’t disclose that Johnson & Johnson had commissioned the unpublished research. The author of the review article concluded that the “concern that has been expressed about the possible health hazard from consumer exposure to cosmetic talc is unwarranted … There is no evidence that its normal use poses a hazard to health.” The author was Hildick-Smith, the Johnson & Johnson physician executive who had overseen the Italian study and played a key role in the company’s talc safety research. The article did not disclose his Johnson & Johnson connection, identifying him only as a Rutgers University Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.
In a related event I submit that I was a panelist at a Round Table Conference on Issues Related to Asbestos Use in India held at India International Centre, New Delhi on December 21, 2009, wherein Dr Iqbal Ahmad, a scientist from IITR, Lucknow said that there are many different sources of asbestos exposures which need to be looked at. He identified talc (powder) as a major source which has asbestos contamination and exposes a large section of population, especially children and women. Talc is used in several industries as raw material. He said that we do have numbers of talc based cosmetic powders in India. China is the largest producer of talc. Some 47 companies which used to procure Chinese talc powder had to recently withdraw their product from market in South Korea due to high asbestos contamination.
In view of the above, I seek your urgent intervention to ensure complete stoppage of ongoing exposure of Indians to carcinogenic asbestos fibers contaminated Talc powder of Johnson & Johnson and other companies in India.
Thanking You
Yours faithfully

(Dr Gopal Krishna, LLB, PhD)
Director, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
E-mail:krishnaruhani@gmail.com 
Web:www.toxicswatch.org

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Criminal Defamation case involving Google & Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) scheduled for final hearing in the Supreme Court: the story so far


Briefing Paper
September 2018
Indian Asbestos and Russian Asbestos cannot have different adverse health impacts but undue influence of asbestos industry lobby makes Govts think so  

The defamation case against Google involving writings of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is scheduled for final hearing in the Supreme Court as per Court’s website[1] (Supreme Court website, 2018). The case is related to the articles published on www.asbestosfreeindia.org. The respondent in this case is Visakha Industries, which is engaged in business of manufacturing and selling of asbestos cement sheets and allied products. Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral fiber banned in some 60 countries. Visakha is a member of Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association (ACPMA), which represents the interests of the Indian asbestos industry. ACPMA has been spreading the misinformation and falsehood about the possibility of safe and controlled use of chrysotile asbestos. The world’s scientific and medical community has overwhelmingly concluded that chrysotile asbestos causes deadly diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung and other cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have called for an end to all use of chrysotile asbestos in order to prevent further tragic epidemics of asbestos-related diseases. Public institutions like the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the International Commission on Occupational Health, the International Social Security Association, the Union for International Cancer Control (representing 770 member organisations in 155 countries, including the Indian Cancer Society and the Cancer Aid and Research Foundation of India), the International Trade Union Confederation (representing 175 million workers in 151 countries), the Collegium Ramazzini, the Joint Policy Committee of Societies of Epidemiology and the Indian Association of Occupational Health have all recommended elimination of the use of chrysotile asbestos because safe use of asbestos is impossible.

It is significant that the Ministry of Mines has informed that “the Grant of fresh mining leases and renewal of existing mining leases for Asbestos are presently banned in the country on Health Grounds”.[2] Government had imposed this ban on mining of all kinds of asbestos in 1986. The core scientific question is: how can Indian asbestos be poisonous but Russian asbestos is not. India is the biggest importer of Russian asbestos. Can Indian Cyanide and Russian Cyanide have different health impacts? The Terms of Reference (TOR) that is awarded by the Experts Appraisal Committee, Industrial Project, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests to the project proponents for white asbestos based roofing factories states that asbestos based companies should prepare a “Health Management Plan for Mesothelioma, Lung cancer and Asbestosis related problems in asbestos industries.” A typical asbestos mineral fibre is about 2,000 times thinner than a human hair. It is believed that smaller, thinner, `respirable' fibres are the ones which do the most damage. These asbestos fibres are invisible to the naked eye. Some of the small fibres remain in the lower parts of the lung for years. Some work their way through the lung lining inducing cancers[3] (Perappadan, 2004). The government agencies like Directorate General, Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) took note of Prevalence of Asbestosis and Related Disorders in an Asbestos Fiber Processing Unit in West Bengal as early as in 1996[4] (DGFASLI, 1996). But unmindful of Supreme Court’s order of 1995 no steps have been taken by the central and state governments for complete ban on asbestos despite admitting the “deleterious effect of asbestos on the health” and in spite of imposing ban on grant, renewal and expansion of asbestos mining in the year 1986, sixty two years after the first diagnosis of asbestosis was made in the UK in 1924[5] (Cooke, 1924).

It is noteworthy that the chairman of ACPMA is the Vice-Chairman of Visakha Industries is a medical graduate. Doctors have played both positive negative roles in the “tragic history” of asbestos industry.[6] The company in question acknowledges that there are “various environmental issues connected with the Asbestos Cement Industry”[7] (Visakha website, 2018). It has admitted that asbestos which is “used as raw material, which is hazardous in nature”. Given the fact that mining of asbestos is banned in India because of its hazardous nature, the company in question has informed the government and the public that the chrysotile type asbestos fiber “will be imported from Brazil[8], Canada and Russia.” Chrysotile (White Asbestos), the serpentine variety is 95% of all Asbestos in the global market. It is the only kind that remains to be totally banned in India. Now the fact is that Brazil[9] and Canada have banned asbestos but India has emerged as the biggest consumer of Russian white asbestos although India has banned mining and trade of asbestos waste (dust and fibers). India should learn from the fall of the asbestos empire.[10] In such a backdrop, it is significant that Parmanpur panchayat of Odisha’s Sambalpur district took a decision to cancel no objection certificate given to Visakha asbestos company and additional district magistrate approved their decision[11] (Moyna, 2015).    

This case has emerged in the context of BANI’s some 18 years of relentless struggle to ensure that preventable deaths from asbestos exposure and asbestos related incurable diseases are prevented. BANI has been demanding systematic monitoring and reporting of asbestos related diseases in India. BANI’s work in alliance with peoples’ movements and trade unions has led to current phasing out of asbestos roofs from some 8000 railway stations across the country[12] (Nair, 2018). Such efforts led to the cancellation of asbestos based factories in Bhojpur[13], Muzaffarpur[14], Vaishali, West Champaran and Madhubani[15] in Bihar[16] and new rules have been framed in Maharashtra as a step to make the state free of asbestos[17]. Its field visits in and around the factories of Visakha Industries Ltd in Vijaywada, Telangana and in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, UP Asbestos Ltd. in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and the factory of Ramco Industries Ltd in Maksi, Madhya Pradesh and in Bhojpur, Bihar brought to light the status of workers in these asbestos factories in both places. In the aftermath of BANI’s intervention, Indian railways is beginning to realize that the disposal of asbestos debris requires proper scientific landfilling to avoid harmful repercussions[18] but its practice in general in replacing asbestos roofs with harmless alternative roofing material is exposing unsuspecting passengers to hazardous asbestos fibers because discarded and broken asbestos roofs are lying strewn around on the railway platforms. It’s efforts made Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) to cancel the “no-objection certificate” given to asbestos factory units.[19] Following BANI's communication to Chief Minister and Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Delhi Government on the subject of making Delhi India’s first asbestos free-state, government has issued instructions for appropriate necessary action[20] (Gupta, 2017).

The SLAPP case in the Supreme Court must be seen in this backdrop. The Court has sought the assistance of the Attorney General of India in this case. Attorney General can assist the Court by seeking help from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which has “informed that major health hazards of asbestos include cancer of lung, mesothelioma of pleura and peritoneum and specific fibrous disease of lung known as asbestosis. All types of asbestos fibers are responsible for human mortality and morbidity….Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes, (DGFASLI) under Ministry of Labour & Employment has intimated data of workers suffering from Asbestosis in factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948.As per the information provided by DGFASLI, it is informed that 21 no. of Asbestosis cases were reported in Gujarat in 2010 and 2 cases in Maharashtra in the year 2012”. This has been shared by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in a written reply. The SLAPP case in question is a malicious lawsuit to silence those who are voicing incontrovertible medical findings.

A paper titled “The future of work in the mirror of industrial disaster of Bhopal” points out the unacknowledged public health crisis due to continued use, manufacture and trade of asbestos and asbestos based products. The paper was presented at the conference held this year.  
  
It is noteworthy that in the USA, Dow Chemicals Company has set aside $2.2 billion to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of its purchase of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), notorious for industrial disaster in Bhopal. BANI has been demanding a compensation fund for present and future victims of asbestos related diseases.

The factsheet of World Health Organisation states that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos and specifically states that its strategy is particularly targeted at countries still using chrysotile asbestos. The asbestos based products include fireproof coatings, concrete and cement, bricks, pipes, gaskets, insulation, drywall, flooring, roofing, joint compound, paints and sealants. Asbestos also exists in electrical appliances, plastics, rubber, mattresses, flowerpots, lawn furniture, hats and gloves. Chrysotile asbestos is often present in a wide variety of products and materials, including Chlor Alkali diaphragm membranes used to make chlorine, Drywall and joint compound (including texture coats), Plaster, Gas mask filters, Vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives, roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles, acoustic ceilings, fireproofing and dental cast linings.
Since 1984, environmental monitoring and health surveys have led to in-depth studies in asbestos based industries in India, highlighting an occupationally vulnerable worker population. It was noticed that the workers occupationally exposed to asbestos have a maximum impairment in their pulmonary function test. Workers employed in the cement-asbestos factories suffer from the exposure to asbestos. Asbestos dust can be inhaled while drilling a hole, cutting a pipe, repairing, renovating or demolishing a building. Its effects are far-reaching, affecting everyone from the person mining it to the ultimate consumer. The incubation period of asbestos related diseases is long. It takes as long as 10 to 30 years for the fibers to make their presence felt in the human body but by then it is incurable. In the rich countries, insurance companies have stopped covering workers employed in asbestos factories and mines. Even World Trade Organisation (WTO)'s Dispute Settlement Panel on September 18, 2000, and its appellate body on March 12, 2001, accepted that white chrysotile asbestos is an established carcinogen and that "controlled use" is not an effective alternative to a national ban[21] (Krishna, 2004).
A paper presented at World Asbestos Congress, Tokyo argued that consumption of asbestos is sanctioned and encouraged by a government prepared to back powerful commercial interests at the expense of public health. There were some 673 small-scale asbestos based factories in India as of 2004 [22] (Krishna, 2004). The table below provides details of factories and workers employed in asbestos industry till 2010.    
S. No.
State/Uts
No. Of Units
No. of workers
1
Andhra Pradesh
7
1389
2
Assam
2
45
3
Delhi
6
231
4
Gujarat
13
739
5
Haryana
19
1300
6
Jharkhand
2
153
7
Karnataka
2
370
S
Kerala
1
200
9
Madhya Pradesh
11
610
10
Orissa
1
477
11
Rajasthan
5
61
12
Tamil Nadu
S
1677
13
Uttar Pradesh
11
711
14
West Bengal
9
1200
15
Maharashtra
24
1338

Source: Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, February 2010

The number of such asbestos based factories has been increasing in the period after 2010 with scant regard for environmental and occupational health of workers, communities and consumers. Following a Supreme Court order on October 14, 2003 (Writ petition (civil) 657/1995), the Union Ministry of Labour constituted a Special Committee under Chairmanship of Director General, Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) on the issue of medical benefits and compensation to workers affected by handling of hazardous waste, toxic in nature. This Committee's report, submitted in May 2004, mentions lung cancer and mesothelioma caused by asbestos in all work involving exposure to the risk concerned. “Asbestos related radiographic changes were seen in 36.1 percent workers.”[23] This finding was based on a study on 789 asbestos workers.  In general, asbestos workers refer to those who work in asbestos based manufacturing like asbestos cement industry, asbestos textile industry, asbestos mining and milling besides thermal power plants. It also includes the construction industry and the shipbreaking industry because workers have to handle asbestos based products or embedded asbestos in the structure of the ship. Besides this asbestos waste from different industries and end-of-life domestic and foreign ships are also handled by the workers without knowledge of the harmful effects of asbestos fibers[24] (MoEF, 1998). BANI through its engagement and cases in the Supreme Court in the matter of dumping of foreign asbestos laden end-of-life vessels like French Le Clemenceau[25], Danish RIKY[26], American Blue Lady[27] and American Exxon Valdez[28] which reached Gujarat’s Alang beach and American Platinum II[29] which reached Gopnath anchorage in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar been instrumental in getting the Shipbreaking Code 2013 adopted by the government. Its case in the Court led to the study of workers who are exposed to asbestos in shipbreaking industry. The study “Medical Examination of the Asbestos Handlers” concluded, “The X ray examination by NIOH showed linear shadows on chest X rays of 15 (16%) of 94 workers occupationally exposed to asbestos. These are consistent with asbestosis…”[30] (TEC Report, 2006). This study is consistent with the study that confirmed increased incidence of overall cancer, esophagus cancer, and trachea, bronchus, and lung cancer which has been found associated with the level of exposure to asbestos among shipbreaking workers[31] (Wu, 2015).

Epidemiological research shows that even in countries where asbestos is banned, earlier exposure could be causing around 30 deaths a day[32] (Krishna, 2006). In its report titled 'Asbestos: The Iron Grip of Latency', the International Labour Organisation (ILO) organisation states that the dumping of asbestos on developing countries will "prove to be a health time bomb in these countries in 20 to 30 years' time"[33] (ILO, 2006). But the way National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) ended up taking the fiscal support from the chrysotile asbestos industry to do a study that is to be used at UN’s Rotterdam Convention meeting has made its outputs non-credible. This study in question was partly funded by the Asbestos Cement Product Manufacturers Association. It remains surprising given the fact that this agency had conducted studies in that past that defended workers' health. The study's terms of reference revealed the government's intent. Here is what the ministry's April 2006 letter demanded of NIOH: "The deliverables will include generation of data which would justify the safe standards of its usage and the reasons justifying its non-inclusion/or otherwise in the pic ambit." The minutes of an April 2007 meeting of the ministry's review committee (half of which comprises asbestos industry representatives) gave NIOH a sharper focus: "It will specifically indicate as to how technology has made working conditions better. The same will include relevant photographs showing protective measures being undertaken." The minutes of the Review Committee obtained recently through Right to Information Act dated 19 December, 2006 reads: "The report will be finalised after due discussions with the asbestos industry"[34] (Krishna, 2008). It demonstrated that NIOH conducted a questionable study which does not inspire any confidence in the researchers who became complicit in this unethical work.

Dr Alec Farquhar, as Managing Director, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, Canada said, “We now have around 500 asbestos cancer cases every year in Ontario from a population of 13 million. If you (India) continue on your current path, you will multiply our death count by 100 times. That would be 50, 000 Indian workers dying every year from asbestos. In Ontario, we learned that safe use of asbestos is impossible. I urge you from the bottom of my heart, please do not make the same mistake as we made in Canada. Stop using asbestos and use a safe alternative” (Krishna, 2011).[35]  Deeply disturbed by the state of affairs in India with regard to asbestos consumption, Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine, Israel said, “All form of asbestos kill. India should bury asbestos, not people. Here is a case for examining whether those countries which export asbestos to India are committing a crime against humanity, because they are engaging in willful neglect. India should not repeat the mistakes of going back some 70 years which will kill tens of thousands of workers and their families” (Ibid).[36] Richter called on experts in human rights to reframe the carcinogen as a human rights violation to ban asbestos.

“No matter what mis-information comes of Canada or the Indian asbestos industry about Chrysotile, there is no question that science has shown that Chrysotile causes asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. This is the conclusion of World Health Organisation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, and other organizations that have no biases except for protecting people’s health,” said Prof. Arthur L Frank, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US.[37]  

By the order dated January 23, 2012, Union Ministry of Labour and Employment constituted an Advisory Committee of 13 members to develop control strategies and to review the safeguards in relation to primary exposure to Asbestos by the workers in pursuance of the judgment of Supreme Court.  There are four terms of reference (TOR) of this Advisory Committee. Two of these TORs deal with ‘ILO guidelines’ and ‘fresh resolution passed by ILO” mentioned in June 2006 resolution[38] (MoLE, 2012). This Advisory Committee was set up to implement Supreme Court’s order since International Labour Organization (ILO) has also made certain specific directions vide its Resolution of 2006 introducing a ban on all mining, manufacture, recycling and use of all forms of asbestos. In compliance of the six specific directions with the order of the Court to maintain the health record of every worker up to a minimum period of 40 years from the beginning of the employment and for 15 years after the retirement or cessation, whichever is later[39] (Supreme Court, 1995). It has been 23 years since the order was passed but non-compliance with it has become the norm even as some 30 people continue to die every day.[40]

In a recent order even the National Green Tribunal (NGT) did not deem it fit to refer to the verdict of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case pertaining to acts of omission and commission by Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Product Limited (now Hindustan Industries Limited), Union of India and others. The company in question undertook mining of asbestos in the Roro hills of Jharkhand from 1963 to 1983 and stopped mining 32 years ago but left the tailings. It did not take safety measures required for closure, restitution and removal of asbestos dust, a human health hazard which caused asbestos related diseases notified under the Mines Act, 1952. But in its very weak and an apparently a non-binding order, NGT has not given relief to either the victims or the affected local environment. It has relied on an unsatisfactory joint inspection report. In a stark act of unacceptable omission the joint inspection team (comprising of S.I. Minz, Additional Director Mines, (HQ), Department of Mines and Geology, Jharkhand, B.P. Kerketta, Senior Assistant Controller of Mines, Indian Bureau of Mines, Kolkata and R.N. Kashyap, Board Analyst, Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board, Ranchi) constituted by Jharkhand Government in compliance with NGT’s order. NGT did not set it right by recommending monetary compensation for damage to the human health and restoration of human environment so far. It has ended up committing a blunder by failing to distinguish case laws pertaining to strict and absolute liability as laid down in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (1987) and the Principle of strict liability as established of Rylands v Fletcher (1868)[41] (NGT, 2018).

In such a context, in a significant development in a communication dated September 22, 2016, Google informed Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) that it has restored its Asbestos Free India website. This was in response to the message sent by BANI to Google team. The site was taken off public view following a complaint by Visakha Industries Ltd, the asbestos based company which has filed the SLAPP case masquerading as defamation case. BANI is the oldest and only public interest initiative in India which has consistently and relentlessly pursued work for a asbestos free future. In its message to Google, BANI communicated that “the truth about the hazards from asbestos exposure in India ought to remain in public domain in the interest of present and future generations. Asbestos is banned in over 50 countries because it causes incurable lung related diseases. In view of the same, the site may be approved for public view in public interest.” The site http://www.asbestosfreeindia.org is available for public view since then.
Disregarding global practices wherein over 50 countries have banned all kinds of asbestos, India has taken an inconsistent position wherein it has technically banned mining of all kinds of asbestos but it continues to export and import asbestos from countries like Russia. This unscientific position is endangering the life and public health of present and future generations. 

For Details: Gopal Krishna, LLB, PhD, Editor of http://www.asbestosfreeindia.org and Convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 9818089660, Email:krishnagreen@gmail.com




[1] Supreme Court of India, https://www.sci.gov.in/case-status, accessed on September 14, 2018
[2] (2003), Ban on Asbestos Mining, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Mines, February 26, http://pibarchive.nic.in/archive/releases98/lyr2003/rfeb2003/26022003/r260220035.html  accessed on 10 September, 2018
[3] Perappadan, Bindu Shajan (2004), `Asbestos exposure at any level is lethal', The Hindu, June 29, https://www.thehindu.com/2004/06/29/stories/2004062909920400.htm accessed on September 10, 2018
[4] Prevalence of Asbestosis and Related Disorders in a Asbestos Fiber Processing Unit in West Bengal, http://www.dgfasli.nic.in/newsletter/jan_march_96.pdf accessed on January 12, 2016
[5] Cooke, W. E. (1924), Fibrosis of the Lungs due to the Inhalation of Asbestos Dust, British Medical Journal, July 26; 2(3317): 140-2, 147-148, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2304688/pdf/brmedj05824-0015a.pdf, accessed on January 12, 2016
[6] Castleman, Barry (2000), In the company of asbestos, The Lancet, Vol 356, September 2, https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0140-6736%2800%2902668-4, accessed on September 26, 2018
[7] Management Board, http://visaka.biz/management.php, accessed on September 14, 2018
[8] Casado, Leticia (2017) Brazilian Supreme Court Bans Use of Asbestos in Brazil
November 30, Brasilia, https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/en/business/2017/11/1939473-brazilian-supreme-court-bans-use-of-asbestos-in-brazil.shtml accessed on September 26, 2018
[9] Allen, Laurie Kazan (2017), Brazil Bans Asbestos!, December 1, https://tinyurl.com/yaa7pkob, accessed on September 26, 2018
[10] Ibid, The Fall of the Asbestos Empire, https://tinyurl.com/yd2mgo5p, accessed on September 26, 2018
[11] Moyna (2015), Odisha village wins case against Visaka Industries' asbestos plant
[12]Nair, Manoj R. (2018), Railways are phasing out asbestos, a suspected health hazard, Hindustan Times, April 23, https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/railways-are-phasing-out-asbestos-a-suspected-health-hazard/story-3laDnefgU8P1VgPXMYdTEP.html accessed on September 15, 2018
[13] Gupta, Alok (2015), Protests at Bihar asbestos unit, Down To Earth, July 4, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/protests-at-bihar-asbestos-unit-42000, accessed on September 15, 2018
[14] Tewary, Amarnath (2011), Student protest halts asbestos factory in Bihar, India, BBC News, February 26, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12354285 accessed on September 15, 2018
[15] Proposals Approved by State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB), industries.bih.nic.in/News/NE-01-20-09-2011.pdf, accessed on September 11, 2018
[16] (2011), Resounding ‘No!’ to asbestos plant in Bihar, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol 8, No 2, http://www.issuesinmedicalethics.org/articles/resounding-no-to-asbestos-plant-in-bihar/?galley=html, accessed on September 15, 2018
[17] Vyas, Sharad (2018), New Rules to make asbestos free, The Hindu, https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/new-rules-to-make-state-free-of-asbestos/article23469360.ece, accessed on September 15, 2018
[18] Aklekar, Rajendra B.(2018), Mumbai: Railway Stations To Have Environment-Friendly Metal Roofs, Mid Day, April 16, https://www.mid-day.com/articles/mumbai-railway-stations-to-have-environment-friendly-metal-roofs/19324157, accessed on September 15, 2018
[19] Thacker, Teena (2016),  Bihar revokes clearance for asbestos factories, The Asian Age, August 15, 2016, http://www.asianage.com/india/bihar-revokes-clearance-asbestos-factories-026 accessed on September 15, 2018
 [20] Gupta, Rajeev (2017), personal communication with O.S.D. to Chief Minister, Government of NCT of Delhi, February 20
[21] Krishna, G. (2004), Say no to white asbestos, Business Standard, February 12 www.rediff.com/money/2004/feb/12guest2.htm accessed on January 14, 2018
[22] Krishna, G. (2004), The Plight of Asbestos Victims in India, World Asbestos Congress, Tokyo 
[23] Trivedy, R.K. et al. Occupational Health : Indian Scenario, Journal of Industrial Pollution Control, http://www.icontrolpollution.com/articles/occupational-health--indian-scenario-.php?aid=45473 accessed on January 5, 2018
[24] (1998), Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) informed the Parliament that “Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos) has been placed on the restricted list of imports by Ministry of Commerce, Directorate General of Foreign Trade in October, 1994. Further, import of waste asbestos (dust and fibre) has been prohibited by Gazette Notification dated October 13
[25] Krishna, G. (2006), French apex court rules, Clemenceau recalled, February 16, http://indiatogether.org/shipretn-environment, accessed on January 24, 2018
[26] Krishna, G. (2006), The scrapping of Riky, March 23, http://www.indiatogether.org/riky-environment, accessed on January 24, 2018
[27] Krishna, G. Setting a precedent for trafficking hazardous waste, October 5,http://www.indiatogether.org/bluelady-environment--3, accessed on January 24, 2018
[28] Division Bench of Supreme Court comprising of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameshwar upheld UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal but allowed the end of life ex US Ship Exxon Valdez (MV Oriental N) at Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. The implication of this direction would be that all the ships which are have entered or are entering the Indian territorial waters have to show compliance of Basel Convention. In case there is non compliance, all these ships should go back to country of origin. Exxon Valdez did not follow the Basel Convention and therefore according to the judgment dated July 6, 2012 it should have been sent back to the country of export. The Court ought to have applied Precautionary Principle not for the purpose of dismantling this asbestos laden end-of-life foreign ship but for sending it back because the principle implies that the pollution of hazardous nature has to be avoided particularly when its impact on environment and human health are not known.
[29] Ray, Kalyan  (2009), Controversial ship has fake registration documents, Deccan Herald, November 9,
[30] (2006), Final Report of the Technical Experts Committee (TEC) on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking presented in to the Supreme Court of India, August 30
[31] Wu WT, Lin YJ, Li CY, Tsai PJ, Yang CY, et al. (2015) Cancer Attributable to Asbestos Exposure in Shipbreaking Workers: A Matched-Cohort Study. PLOS ONE 10(7): e0133128. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133128
[32] Krishna, G. (2006), White asbestos: A ticking time bomb, InfoChange News & Features, http://infochangeindia.org/environment/features/white-asbestos-a-ticking-time-bomb.html accessed on January 12, 2016
[33] (2006), Asbestos: the iron grip of latency, International Labour Organiosation, January 10
[34] Krishna, G. (2008), A government under an asbestos roof, Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 12, Issue 1, p. 43-44, http://www.ijoem.com/article.asp?issn=00195278;year=2008;volume=12;issue=1;spage=43;epage=44;aulast=Krishna accessed on January 6, 2016
[35] Krishna, G., Need to Make Tamil Nadu Free of Cancer Causing Asbestos Fibers, 2011, 29, March, http://www.asbestosfreeindia.org/2011/03/, accessed on 12 September, 2018
[36] Ibid
[37] Op.cit
[38] (2012), Order, S-25016/16/1993-ISH-II, Ministry of Labour and Employment (MOLE), Government of India, January 23
[39] (1995), Judgment of Supreme Court, Writ Petition (Civil) N. 206 of 1986, January 27
[40] Sehgal, Rashme (2011), Asbestos causing 30 deaths per day in India, Asian Age, Jan 21, http://archive.asianage.com/india/asbestos-causing-30-deaths-day-india-303, accessed on September 24, 2016
[41] (2018), Order of National Green Tribunal, Kalyan Singh v Hindustan Industries Limited, August 14

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