Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) works for Asbestos Free India inspired by trade union leader Purnendu Majumadar. Occupational Health India and ToxicsWatch Alliance are its members that includes doctors, researchers and activists. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. It works with trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. For Details:1715krishna@gmail.com, oshindia@yahoo.in

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Is “People’s Car” Asbestos Free?

















Tata Motors has launched the people's car - Tata 'Nano.' The car will be available in several variants. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group said that the car is eco-friendly. So far, they have invested Rs 1,500-1,700 crore in the small car project. The car will comply with Bharat III & Euro 4 emission norms. He said that the car meets all safety standards including crash test, offset and side crash.

But it is not clear whether this “People’s Car” is asbestos free. In India, asbestos fibers are used in automobile brake pads and shoes. Almost all automakers still use asbestos brakes. World over since the mid-1990s, a majority of brake pads, new or replacement, have been manufactured instead with Aramid fiber (the same material used in bulletproof vests).

Besides consumers, most auto mechanics are just as ignorant about the asbestos threat but for the mechanics, ignorance can mean a painful death. Scientists are well aware of the cancer causing nature of asbestos. Asbestos containing brake linings and jointing used in automobiles. Automotive parts industry manufactures brake shoes. Those auto manufacturers who are conscious of hazards of asbestos exposure are using and manufacturing metallic brake shoes as a safer replacement. There is no surveillance to ensure that asbestos brakes carry the cancer warning labels.

It appears that some of the major auto makers are still selling asbestos-containing new vehicles and replacement brakes in India, even though they probably wouldn’t dare sell try to sell it to Europe, Japan, Australia and countries that have banned it.

India has a very disturbing situation where even new vehicles and replacement parts with asbestos continue to be sold. There is no reliable documentation about the working conditions or pollution at the plants where these asbestos products are made.

In a stark case of double standard, both asbestos free brakes and asbestos containing ones are being manufactured but the former is for export and latter is for domestic consumption.

Many brakes and clutches used in new and recent model automobiles do not contain asbestos. However, it has not been totally eliminated. Some reports have indicated that many mechanics and employees in the automotive repair shops as well as do-it-yourselfers are unaware that asbestos may be present in both old and replacement brakes and clutches. Asbestos is banned in over 40 countries and has given rise to an epidemic of asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer. Modern industry has no need of asbestos but asbestos industry is still expanding in India.

Tata Motors, India's largest truck maker launched the country's cheapest car today priced at 100,000 rupees ($2,500) . These trucks have never claimed to be asbestos free.

1 comment:

toxicswatch said...

1. Is Nano asbestos free?

NEW DELHI, Jan. 12: Tata Motors is not clear if its ‘Nano’ is asbestos free, according to Mr Gopal Krishna, who heads Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI),. In India, asbestos fibre is used in automobile brake pads and shoes. Mr Krishna said almost all auto-makers in India still use asbestos brakes.
Since the mid-1990s, the world over a majority of brake pads, new or replaced, have been manufactured with Aramid fibre (the same material used in bulletproof vests), he said.
“Besides consumers, most auto mechanics are just as ignorant about the asbestos threat but for the mechanics, ignorance can mean a painful death. Scientists are well aware of the cancer causing nature of asbestos,” said Mr Krishna. Asbestos is banned in over 40 countries as it has given rise to an epidemic of asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer. Despite the Tata Group’s claim that the Nano is eco-friendly and meets all safety standards including crash test, offset and side crash, it is not specifically clear about the use of the asbestos element in the car, said BANI. India has a disturbing situation where even new vehicles and replacement parts with asbestos continue to be sold. There is no reliable documentation about the working conditions or pollution at the plants where these asbestos products are made, BANI pointed out.

Sanjay Singh
The Statesman, India - Jan 12, 2008

2. A Miracle, But Can It Be Sustained?

Ratan Tata wants a slice of five crore two-wheeler owners to buy his car. But price escalation and timely supplies are challenges the product has to beat, report SHANTANU GUHA RAY and VIVEK SINHA

TWO INCIDENTS, far away from the glitz and glamour of a show at the Pragati Maidan complex in the Indian Capital where Ratan Tata peddled his sporty fourdoor, five-

On paper, the Nano has met the current safety and pollution norms. It was front crash-tested and is currently being tweaked by the manufacturers for side crash impact. Trade bodies like ASSOCHAM and rating agencies like Crisil reckon the vehicle will help prices stabilise in the small car market that has seen many global entrants. Currently, the lowest version — Maruti800 — is priced at Rs 1,95,000 for the base model

The Singur plant of Tata Motors is still facing trouble from activists who blame the Tatas for not providing adequate compensation. Tatas have denied the charge. The success of Nano also depends on its speedy supply, especially when the national launch is in October. If trouble continues, then the Tatas could move production to their plants in Pune or Pantnagar. But the process of shifting could actually delay the launch

seater Nano, made interesting news. One was that many as six cabinet ministers, were keen to attend the Nano launch. Not just the ministers, a significant number of key bureaucrats were keen to attend the show. They all backtracked after being told that the Commerce Minister Kamal Nath had already accepted the invitation and such a large number of cabinet ministers and top bureaucrats landing up could be a little embarrassing for Tata himself. The second incident involved India’s top car designer Dilip Chhabria, also present at the auto show with his remodeled BMW. On being asked whether he would re-design Nano, Chhabria shot back: “First, let Indians get a feel of their dream car. I am into designer cars which are not for mass production.”

In their own ways, the remarks reflect a growing satisfaction of India’s bubbling car market — where penetration is just seven per 1,000 people as compared to 550 per

1,000 in countries such as Germany — over a product offered cheap with guarantees of less fuel consumption, less pollution and less parking space. As a result, a group of activists from West Bengal, wearing T-shirts with “Tata’s screwed Singur” slogans, got scant attention despite standing at the entrance of the overcrowded hall that hosted the show.

Worse, Chhabria — who got India’s top actor Sanjay Dutt to launch his specially designed Ambierod, a retro futuristic luxury car based on the look of the Ambassador — was zapped to see Dutt walking over to the next stall and telling prying journalists that he would prefer the Nano over the Rs 4 crore Ambierod. “My girlfriend is already in love with Nano,” quipped Dutt, known for his passion for cars. A significant number of commoners thronging the auto show also seemed to agree. “I would like to have one of these cars. It looks nice and has better mileage. The pollution is only as bad as a motorcycle, so I don’t think that will be a problem,” quipped Vijay Sanjani, a medical representative.

EXPERTS CLAIM Tata’s launch of the world’s cheapest car — it will hit the roads around the festive season of Diwali this year — will spur creation of a
vast new market segment in a nation of 1.1 billion, where the auto sector is red hot. “More than environment issues, it is the question of affordability that is currently being talked about. India’s rising income, nine percent economic growth and car-owning aspirations will make this one a happening product,” Dilip Chenoy of the Society of Indian Automobiles told TEHELKA.

3. "People's Car" Asbestos Free?
Major auto makers are still selling asbestos-containing new vehicles
Somnath Choudhary 14/1/2008 6:03:58 PM(IST)

Tata Motors has launched the people''s car - Tata 'Nano.' The car will be available in several variants. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group said that the car is eco-friendly. So far, they have invested Rs 1,500-1,700 crore in the small car project. The car will comply with Bharat III & Euro 4 emission norms. He said that the car meets all safety standards including crash test, offset and side crash.

But it is not clear whether this "People's Car" is asbestos free. In India, asbestos fibers are used in automobile brake pads and shoes. Almost all automakers still use asbestos brakes. World over since the mid-1990s, a majority of brake pads, new or replacement, have been manufactured instead with Aramid fiber (the same material used in bulletproof vests).

Besides consumers, most auto mechanics are just as ignorant about the asbestos threat but for the mechanics, ignorance can mean a painful death. Scientists are well aware of the cancer causing nature of asbestos. Asbestos containing brake linings and jointing used in automobiles. Automotive parts industry manufactures brake shoes. Those auto manufacturers who are conscious of hazards of asbestos exposure are using and manufacturing metallic brake shoes as a safer replacement. There is no surveillance to ensure that asbestos brakes carry the cancer warning labels.

It appears that some of the major auto makers are still selling asbestos-containing new vehicles and replacement brakes in India, even though they probably wouldn't dare sell try to sell it to Europe, Japan, Australia and countries that have banned it.

India has a very disturbing situation where even new vehicles and replacement parts with asbestos continue to be sold. There is no reliable documentation about the working conditions or pollution at the plants where these asbestos products are made.

In a stark case of double standard, both asbestos free brakes and asbestos containing ones are being manufactured but the former is for export and latter is for domestic consumption.

Many brakes and clutches used in new and recent model automobiles do not contain asbestos. However, it has not been totally eliminated. Some reports have indicated that many mechanics and employees in the automotive repair shops as well as do-it-yourselfers are unaware that asbestos may be present in both old and replacement brakes and clutches. Asbestos is banned in over 40 countries and has given rise to an epidemic of asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer. Modern industry has no need of asbestos but asbestos industry is still expanding in India.

ARUN FIRODIA
Chairman, Kinetic Group

With its impressive looks, Nano is a feather in the cap of the automobile industry which is poised to be the next star of India after the IT sector. It will make the world sit up and give due recognition to our manufacturing sector. I feel that Nano will affect only the car market and not the two wheelers as at current price levels they are quite economical. In the longer term, however, the more premium segments within two wheelers, such as the 150cc and above motorbikes may be affected. While economy segments such as mopeds, scooters and entry level bikes will hardly feel any impact.

Agrees Arun Firodia, chairman of Kinetic group whose company had displayed a prototype of a Rs 1,00,000 car more than a decade ago at the same venue but failed to produce the same because of not being granted tax benefits: “The capacity for the Tata Nano is a small percentage of the two wheeler market size. Until and unless the capacity is dramatically increased, the impact on the two wheeler market will be muted.” Kinetic Engineering, interestingly, is partnering with the Tatas to provide gearbox and gears for Nano.

Leading rating agency Crisil has already said the Nano will cut the cost of entry-level car ownership in India by a whopping 30 per cent. “The new price point translates into a sixty five percent increase in the number of families that can afford a car,” Crisil said in its rating note of the market where around 1.4 million passenger vehicles were sold last year of which more than two-thirds were small cars. No wonder then Tata group chairman Ratan Tata, who personally spearheaded Nano’s development as a way to get the masses off motorcycles — 50 million drive motorcycles in India - and into safer cars, is being likened by experts to Henry Ford who revolutionised the US car market with the Model T.

At the crowded press conference, Tata, a Cornell architecture graduate, said he thought about an ultra-cheap car when he saw a poor family on a two-wheeler — “the father driving the scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him holding a little baby.” And it was then he decided to create a safer vehicle they could afford and the company came up with the Nano.

India’s small car market — of late — has seen an overdrive from global automakers contemplating turning India’s low wage and skilled labour workforce into an ideal export hub. Among the entrants are South Korea’s Hyundai, Japan’s Honda, France’s Renault, Germany’s Volkswagen and Ford. “It is not just the Tatas’ or Bajajs’, today almost every global player is in India in some form,” says Yezdi Nagporewalla, a director at global consultancy firm KPMG.

INDUSTRY BODY Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) reckon Nano’s low price could actually revolutionise auto prices downwards. Currently, the small car price tag of global players are in the higher bracket, ranging up to Rs 4,00,000 and more. For example, Nano’s nearest current rival on Indian roads is the Maruti 800, owned by Japan’s Suzuki and costs Rs 2,15,000 for a basic model. “Two-wheeler owners will be prompted to upgrade to a car and there will be many product developments in the mini car category,” forecast industry body Assocham.

Critics had initially claimed the Nano will be nothing but a glorified, motorized bullock cart but the launch doused such criticism. Quipped Tata Motors MD Ravi Kant:

JAGDISH KHATTAR
Former MD, Maruti Udyog

The thirty-four product innovations used in Nano shows how research can create wonders in the automobile sector. We should invest more on R&D and come up with customised products for the masses which could, as well, benefit other countries of the Third World. Though priced at Rs 1 lakh, a lot would depend on the easy finance facilities available to the masses for whom the car is aimed at. It would be wrong to blame the increasing number of cars for the growing congestion on the roads. We need better connectivity between the roads to make commuting easier.

“Do you know why criticisms have gone on the backburner? It is because the car has fuelled hopes of millions of consumers across the country who are middle class by global standards but with rising incomes they no longer remain at the bottom of the pyramid.”

Kant made it clear that the Nano was no Houdini magic and agreed that its success would revolve around speedy production, an issue that currently hangs fire because of continued on-ground protests at the site of the newly created plant in Singur, West Bengal. “A car plant generates economic boom in its surroundings. If people do not want jobs in Singur, it would not only be sad but also unfortunate. Visit our Pantnagar plant in Uttaranchal and see what it has done to the city and its people. But if trouble lingers, we will have no option but to shift base,” Kant told TEHELKA.

Though there has been no test drive by car experts, both of the basic model or the deluxe versions, auto experts said the car passed the first test for looks. “It has an excellent exterior,” says Bijoy Kumar Y. Dealers across the country told TEHELKA they were flooded with inquiries, some coming from rich people keen to own and drive a car whose basic model has manual transmission, no air conditioning, electric windows or power steering, and that, it would be a Herculean effort for the group to maintain supplies if it wants to succeed in the competitive Indian market. “Ensuring its commercial success will be as challenging, if not more, as managing the venerable Jaguar and Land Rover brands that it is set to acquire from the Ford, group” says MarketWatch analyst PV Phani Kumar. “But before Nano’s success potentially changes the competitive landscape in India, and possibly across the developing world, Tata Motors will need to sort out a few things,” he adds.

“For one, it needs to make sure that any possible teething problems aren’t nearly as serious as they were when it launched the Indica hatchback to enter the passenger car segment a decade ago. Any auto industry expert can tell you that a vehicle goes through a lifecycle of improvement and initially produced batches are never as good as the subsequent ones. Although the Nano will be the cheapest car around, it will still be an expensive purchase for most Indians — possibly next only to a home purchase or in some cases, a daughter’s wedding — and major technical snags won’t be forgiven.”

DILIP CHHABRIA
Automobile designer

Nano is a car that will fulfil the dreams of those who want to move beyond a life of two-wheelers. The initial market reaction has been extremely encouraging. It will be interesting to see how the Tatas keep the costs low, as has been promised. This is a car which will cater to the mass market and not to the niche market. And in the longer run, a car like this can actually change the face of the Indian automobile market because of its sheer affordability. I am finding it a little strange talking about this car because I have always worked for topend designer cars and not one which would be the darling of the masses.

In fact, the real challenge for Tata has just begun. First, it will be important to market the car against other small cars, especially the second hand market that is equally large in India. Interestingly, those opting for the second hand market do not have loads of expectations and Nano would easily beat that competition. “We sell on an average of five cars per week but Nano will change this. Who would want a second hand car if you can get a brand new car for just over a lakh rupees,” says Sudhir Talwar a second hand car dealer in New Delhi. Tata Motors hope the Nano magic spreads in both metropolitan and tier-II cities where the takers would be many. Says Rajesh Varma Dhanbad: “I earn Rs 12,000 a month and for me owning a car worth Rs 300,000 is a big deal. With Nano due to be launched by the year end, I am planning to buy one for myself. After all, a car for any Indian is indeed a status symbol.”

While there is no dearth of people like Varma who are weaving plans to own a Nano there is a flip side to the story as well. True, Nano offers a cost advantage and with a mileage of twenty kilometers a litre of petrol its fairly cheaper to maintain, yet it has raised some apprehensions in the minds of same who have chalked out elaborate plans to go Nano. “I do not know how far the quality has been compromised in order to keep the price low, its only that the name of Tatas is a trusted one so we can vouch for a Nano,” said a concerned Varma. Also crucial to Varma, and all those seeking the Nano, would be the issue of safety. The car has been tested for frontal crash and is being currently tweaked for side impact and there are chances that the car will have safety air bags when exported.

IN OTHER words, India’s transportation concerns would not ease because of a Nano hitting the roads. Argued Thomas Friedman in his weekly column in New York Times: “Do not ape our model. Leapfrog not trail our footprints. India needs a viable mass transport system not cheap cars as modes of transport, and without a public transport system in place the advent of low cost cars would only aggravate the traffic snarls of the country. Quoting an instance of traffic jam on a newly inaugurated flyover in Hyderabad, Friedman wondered about the situation when Nano would hit the roads.

It is also a sore point with Sunita Narain, director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE): “It would lead to utter chaos on the roads, which already faces heavy traffic jams. Nano would mean many bikers would prefer to travel on four wheels, requiring more space on the roads. Even the housing societies would face a range of parking problems.” She was joined by Greenpeace which said it was important for Indian car makers to check emission norms before pushing in their products in the market.

Also vocal in its protest was anti-asbestos lobby which said it was unsure whether the Tatas - like all other Indian car makers - used asbestos while developing the brake shoes for the Nano. “They need to come clear on the products they are using because worldwide, top auto manufacturers are moving away from using asbestos brake shoes and using special fibre glass for environmental reasons,” said one activist.

BUT FOR the moment, Tatas have ducked the heat by saying – and getting others to say – they also build roads and highways and are India’s largest bus manufacturers. Says former Maruti Udyog chairman Jagdish Khattar in defence of his once arch-rival: “Yes, we are facing serious infrastructure bottlenecks and the roads are clogged for most part of the day but is it the job of a car manufacturer to be held accountable for traffic jams?”

Someone else needs to answer that question. Meanwhile, the queues have started to get behind the wheel of the world’s cheapest car.

With inputs from Morgan Harrington
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 3, Dated Jan 26, 2008

3. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has expressed apprehensions regarding claims of Nano being eco-freindly since it is likely to be asbestos laden. It does require response from Ratan Tata and those who endorse the car.
www.banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

4. "People's Car" Asbestos Free?

Tata Motors has launched the people''s car - Tata 'Nano.' The car will be available in several variants. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group said that the car is eco-friendly. So far, they have invested Rs 1,500-1,700 crore in the small car project. The car will comply with Bharat III & Euro 4 emission norms. He said that the car meets all safety standards including crash test, offset and side crash.

But it is not clear whether this "People's Car" is asbestos free. In India, asbestos fibers are used in automobile brake pads and shoes. Almost all automakers still use asbestos brakes. World over since the mid-1990s, a majority of brake pads, new or replacement, have been manufactured instead with Aramid fiber (the same material used in bulletproof vests).

Besides consumers, most auto mechanics are just as ignorant about the asbestos threat but for the mechanics, ignorance can mean a painful death. Scientists are well aware of the cancer causing nature of asbestos. Asbestos containing brake linings and jointing used in automobiles. Automotive parts industry manufactures brake shoes. Those auto manufacturers who are conscious of hazards of asbestos exposure are using and manufacturing metallic brake shoes as a safer replacement. There is no surveillance to ensure that asbestos brakes carry the cancer warning labels.

It appears that some of the major auto makers are still selling asbestos-containing new vehicles and replacement brakes in India, even though they probably wouldn't dare sell try to sell it to Europe, Japan, Australia and countries that have banned it.

India has a very disturbing situation where even new vehicles and replacement parts with asbestos continue to be sold. There is no reliable documentation about the working conditions or pollution at the plants where these asbestos products are made.

In a stark case of double standard, both asbestos free brakes and asbestos containing ones are being manufactured but the former is for export and latter is for domestic consumption.

Many brakes and clutches used in new and recent model automobiles do not contain asbestos. However, it has not been totally eliminated. Some reports have indicated that many mechanics and employees in the automotive repair shops as well as do-it-yourselfers are unaware that asbestos may be present in both old and replacement brakes and clutches. Asbestos is banned in over 40 countries and has given rise to an epidemic of asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer. Modern industry has no need of asbestos but asbestos industry is still expanding in India.

Somnath Choudhary
mynews.in

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