Following anti asbestos campaign of BANI and correspondence with the Chief Minister of Delhi, the government has initiated a survey or asbestos products in Delhi in order to phase out use of asbestos products from Delhi. The Principal Scientific Officer of the government at the instruction from the Chief Secretary has initiated the process but in conversation with a BANI member underlined that there is no alternative to banning it.
It is noteworthy that currently both asbestos products and asbestos free products are being manufactured in Delhi and National Capital Territory but the former is meant for domestic consumption and the latter is meant for export.
The state of Haryana has continued the use of asbestos cement pipes for water supply.
As a result of the efforts made to get asbestos banned the Government of Haryana has examined the hazardous nature of asbestos cement water pipes, which were meant for water supply in rural areas within the state. The Public Health Department has taken a position that the department “was against the use of asbestos pipes for water supply as asbestos was a deadly carcinogen.” In another order issued in September 2006, the Industries Department withdrew the order debarring Bansal Asbestos Cement Product Private Ltd of Indore from doing business with the Haryana Government. The company was blacklisted for three years in July, 2004. It has been noted by the public health department that “Unless asbestos was banned, the real cost of asbestos may be paid in death and disability”.
Engagements with Maharsthra Pollution Control Board bore fruit; it has now released a FAQ on hazards from asbestos.
Deputy Commissioner of Ranchi has sought to know concrete steps as to how he can make Ranchi district asbestos free.
Visits were made by BANI to asbestos cement sheet plants in Lucknow and Raebarely to take stock of the status of exposure to the asbestos workers. The same has been was widely published.
BANI has written letters to all the chief ministers and administrators of the Union Territories urging them to make their states asbestos free. Some of them have responded and responses are awaited from others. BANI has been pursuing them to respond to the imminent asbestos crisis in the country.
BANI has consistently engaged with media to impress upon the government to put a ban on asbestos trade and use and support the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of Rotterdam Convention.
BANI has used all the platforms made available to it to argue for ban on asbestos. It did so when the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous wastes and Technical Experts Committee called it for its submission.
It lambasted National Institute of Occupational Health for having taken fund from chrysotile asbestos industry to undertake research on harmful effects of chrysotile asbestos cement. It condemned the misinformation campaign of AK Saraf, Chairman of the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers’ Association, India who said, “Asbestos cement used in India is free from all health hazards.” It persuaded CSR Asia to endorse phasing out of asbestos stating “Companies must adopt global policies for avoiding the use of new asbestos products and carefully manage in-place asbestos products in existing infrastructure.”
Following anti-asbestos efforts the study done by Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, Government of India that showed no harmful effects has been questioned. Now it has been noted that on the basis of scientific research that all the varieties of asbestos are hazardous and harmful to health.
In the ongoing hazardous waste case in the Supreme Court asbestos, asbestos containing material and asbestos wastes has become the key issues of concern. In the submission made to the court as affidavits BANI has submitted that some 45 countries have banned asbestos and informed the court that ILO too has recommended it. It reminded the Court of its own order of 1995 wherein it had directed the Government to make its steps consistent with ILO resolutions. In the entire Blue Lady case matter besides the issue of prior decontamination of the ship hazards from asbestos has been brought in the public domain quite prominently.
Dealing with the asbestos matter the Parliamentary Petitions Committee in its report dated 17 August, 2007 has asked the Ministry of Environment “to strongly campaign to create awareness amongst the people about the ill effects of asbestos” that has been submitted in the parliament.
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