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, December 22, 2009

Government must make India Asbestos Free

Press Release

Government must make India Asbestos Free

New Delhi/22/12/2009: “The reason no asbestos diseases are visible in India is because somehow Indian public health system does not record the asbestos related diseases, this won’t work in India. It needs substitutes for asbestos which are readily available”, said Prof (Dr) Arthur Frank, a renowned public health expert from US.

The victims of Asbestos diseases from Maharshtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat narrated their story of horrendous working conditions, concealing of the hazards of working with asbestos, delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis and absence of legal remedy for their incurable diseases.

Calling for a ban on asbestos of all kinds, Dr George Karimundackal from Tata Memorial Hospital presented 127 cases of mesothelioma and lung cancers which his hospital has diagnosed and treated from 1985 to 2008 stating how most cases came at a terminal stage. He concluded that his hospital receives 5-6 cases of asbestos diseases every year and 1 % of all lung cancer cases are mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos disease. Notably, only 3 in 36 of the cases had a history of exposure from asbestos industry which implied that there is prevalence of secondary exposure to consumers as well.

A round table conference organised by Occupational and Enviornmental Health Network of India on issues related to Asbsestos use in India was held on 21st December, 2009 at India International centre Annexe. There were around 40 participants. The participants included workers on the ground, trade unions, various NGOs, Govt research institutes, NHRC, doctors and experts from other countries.

Dr Qamar Rehman, a well known toxicologist and emeritus scientist ITRC presented the key note address and pointed out that “We need to ban asbestos. We need to compensate the workers, which is the only way to phase out asbestos and get justice for the workers.”

Dr Domyung Paek from Seoul National University informed that South Korea has banned asbestos in 2007 which came into effect from 2009 and is in the process of passing Asbestos Compensation Law 2009.

The potential of Ban White Asbestos (Use and Import) Bill, 2009 which has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the Central Pollution Control Board study seeking all workers to be employed permanently and Railway Ministry’s steps in taking asbestos roofs away from platform was taken note of. Not just domestic consumption, but we are exporting asbestos products to other countries like Bhutan.

Dr Barry Castleman, an authority on asbestos medical and legal issues adviced India to adopt alternatives of asbestos and referred to World Bank’s good practice notes, how WHO is assisting countries to eliminate asbestos diseases and ILO’s 2006 resolution calling for banning asbestos of all kinds including white asbestos.

END

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