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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BANI Seeks Ban on White Asbestos Export from Canadian Prime Minister

Press Release

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Asbestos free India, BANI Demands immediate ban on export, import & use of white asbestos

BANI Seeks Ban on White Asbestos Export from Canadian Prime Minister

The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament)

November 17, 2009, New Delhi –In the face massive asbestos exposure underway in India, The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament) and the order of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) appeals to the visiting Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Stephen Harper to put a ban on export of Canadian asbestos to India. He must act with effect to ban the asbestos mines in Quebec, the province where chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) is mined in Canada.

It is unbecoming of Canadian to defend the asbestos industry and its barbarism unmindful of the fact that over 90% of Canada's asbestos goes to developing countries like India, where worker protections and enviro-occupational health infrastructure are weak or non-existent. The silence of Canadian government in the face of workers and consumers who are sick and dying from asbestos-caused cancer is deafening. Canadian government must stop protecting the corporate criminals of the asbestos industry who are hiding behind manifest immoral patronage of your government.

The STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in the Indian Parliament reads: “The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health Organisation has reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous material that is used to make rooftops and break linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of white asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use it domestically. But in our country, it is imported without any restriction. Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported almost Ninety five percent of the white asbestos it mined and out of it forty-three percent was shipped to India. It is quite surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product, which causes cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap alternatives to asbestos are available in the country. Instead of importing a hazardous material, it will be better if we spend some money in research and development and use environment friendly product. In view of the above, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.”

Taking cognizance of the human rights violation involved in exposing people to killer asbestos fibers, Kerala State Human Rights Commission has noted that exposing workers and consumers to asbestos fibers of all kinds including chrysotile constitutes violation of human rights in its order dated 31st January, 2009. BANI has consistently been drawing the urgent attention towards a serious unprecedented environmental and occupational health crisis with regard to unnoticed asbestos epidemic in the country. Even if one asbestos fibre reaches the right place, it causes irreversible damage - leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Thirty deaths are caused per day from asbestos-related diseases as per estimates based on US and European studies.

In such a context, Canadian government’s role in preventing the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention, an International Agreement that requires that importing countries be warned of the risks associated with hazardous products is condemnable. It is unconscionable that Canadian government knowingly exports a killer product that will kill thousands of people in India. As long as Canadian government continues to support, it would be and it must be deemed as one of the biggest violators of human rights on earth and unfit to be part of the rest of the civilized countries who have banned asbestos industry.

There is incontrovertible evidence that creates a compelling logic for making India asbestos free. The asbestos exporting countries in liaison with the Indian asbestos industry in collusion with government has unleashed a misinformation campaign about the mythical safe and controlled use of asbestos products, unmindful of the fact that so far some 50 countries have banned all forms of asbestos, and are already using alternative materials.

Almost every international health agency of repute including the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the American Cancer Society agree there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Most recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed that all commercial asbestos fibers - including chrysotile, the most commercially used form of asbestos - cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. In addition, the IARC newly confirmed that there is sufficient evidence that asbestos causes ovarian cancer and reconfirmed asbestos causes laryngeal cancer.

BANI calls upon the Indian Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Ministry of Mines as well to initiate steps for immediate ban on use, manufacture and trade of all forms of asbestos (including Chrysotile or White Asbestos).

BANI is shocked to note that instead of banning asbestos, the Canadian government uses tax-payers dollars and Canadian embassies to actively promote the sale of asbestos around the world.

BANI appeals to Mr Stephen Harper to resist corporate influence of the chrysotile (white) asbestos industry and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention as a first step at the next meeting of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. And as a next step, initiate efforts to ban its mining and export for good.

About Ban Asbestos Network of India
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) is engaged in responding to public health crisis due to mining, manufacturing, use, and import of all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile. As part of a global anti-toxic activists’ coalition, BANI is fighting to ensure asbestos free ship-breaking. Asbestos is a commercial term for six fibrous minerals of which chrysotile (white asbestos), the fibrous form of serpentine, is the form of asbestos which is mostly used now. BANI was founded by public health and environmental health researchers and activists in 2002. For more information visit banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

For further details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb:09818089660, E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com, banasbestos@yahoo.com

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