Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) that 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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kazakhstan exporting death & disease to India

In January 2009, Zhanar S. Aitzhanova, Kazakhstan's Vice Minister of Industry and Trade and her country’’s chief negotiator at World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said that the trade between the two countries had gone up to a mammoth 232 million dollars. She added, of this, building material like asbestos has contributed 15 million dollars by the first ten months of 2008.

UN statistics indicates that India imported roughly 306,000 MT of asbestos in 2006. Out of which 48, 807 MT was imported from Kazakhstan. The rate of consumption in India is increasing at an alarming pace, which is fraught with disastrous health consequences.

In effect, Kazakhstan is exporting death and disease to India by dumping its asbestos in India. Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev was the chief guest at the Republic Day. He has signed some trade agreements with India during his visit.

It provides an occasion to take stock of its relationship with India. Government of Kazakhstan along with Russia, Zimbabwe, Canada, and Brazil have worked in tandem with the chrysotile asbestos industry and governments of countries like India to ensure that the ongoing toxic corporate crime of letting unsuspected consumers and workers suffer preventable but incurable fatal asbestos diseases continues with impunity.

According to a report, “Killing the Future - Asbestos Use in Asia” co-published by Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), “From the beginning of the 20th century until the outbreak of World War II, world production of asbestos rose by 2000%. Global production is currently 2,230,000 tonnes (t)/year, with the majority of fiber being mined in Asia.”

In November 2008, the 126 nations that have ratified the UN’s Rotterdam Convention had a meeting in Rome to discuss inclusion of hazardous substances like Chrysotile asbestos. These meetings take place every two years to add new hazardous substances to a list of the Convention. Those substances that are included in the list create an obligation for an exporter to first notify an intended recipient country of the harmful status of the substance that is being shipped. This procedure is called Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure meant to protect gullible and vulnerable countries and their citizens.

Sadly, eight countries opposed to adding chrysotile asbestos in the list. These countries were India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Ukraine, Philippines, Mexico, and Vietnam.

Currently mining of all kinds of asbestos (Blue, Brown and White [chrysotile] Asbestos) is banned in India although efforts by politicians owning asbestos mines to get the ban lifted. Trade in asbestos waste is also banned. Besides all other forms of asbestos other than chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) is prohibited in India. While white asbestos mining is currently banned in India, its import, export or use in manufacturing is permitted.

It is quite strange as to why the seven asbestos-importing countries agreed to join (asbestos exporter) Kazakhstan in opposing the PIC-listing of asbestos because it would not have changed anything for them since they would have been free to go on importing it in any case. The interest of the asbestos producers and exporting countries that includes Russia, Zimbabwe, Canada, and Brazil was successfully represented at the UN meeting by Kazakhstan, the second largest producer of chrysotile asbestos in the world.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Orissa Govt alloted land for asbestos plant illegally

Konark Cement and Asbestos Limited had been fraudulently allotted land by the goverment for their industrial units in Orissa

Actually, it is Utkal Asbestos Ltd (UAL) that manufacturers Of Konark Asbestos Cement Sheets & Accessories. It is this very company that was given environmental excellence award by the West Bengal Government.

The Orissa government provides subisidy on asbestos products. In 2004, UAL’s plant at Dhenkanal, Orissa, received an ‘Excellence Award’ from the Government of Orissa.

Ministry of environment and forests, of the United Progressive Alliance Govt at the centre has accorded Environmental clearance to UAL Bengal, Prop. UAL Industries Limited., for expansion of their production capacity for manufacturing of Asbestos Cement Sheets and Acessories at their unit situated at Guptamani, Tungadowa, district Midnapore (W), West Bengal, vide letter dated 24th January 2006.

There is political consensus to promote asbestos at any human cost. Since 1980 Utkal Asbestos Limited which has its name to UAL Industries Limited from January , 2006 has been manufacturing Asbestos Cement Corrugated sheets and accessories under the Brand ‘Konark’.

The company is currently in the process of setting up another plant at Uttar Pradesh.

The multi-crore industrial land scam rocked the Orissa Assembly on December 15, 2008 with the Opposition demanding a high-level probe.

BANI

“The Naveen Patnaik government claims to have provided a clean administration. Perhaps this land scam is the brightest example of the clean administration,” said firebrand Congress member Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra while moving an adjournment motion on the matter.

Mohapatra said the state-owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation was entrusted with allotment of land to the industrial units in Bhubaneswar.

However, the corporation had not adopted any transparent policy and allotted land to industries arbitrarily, he alleged.

Citing a few instances, the Congress legislator said while Delhi-based Unitech Private Limited had been allotted 10 acres at a rate of Rs 21.1 crore per acre, a few other companies like Silicon, Centurion Institute of Technology and Prem Pratisthan had been provided land with a premium of Rs 6 lakh per acre. Two acres have been allotted to Team India Private Limited at a price of Rs 37.29 lakh, he said.

Several technical education institutions have been allotted industrial land, alleged Mohapatra. One private firm has constructed residential house and swimming pool on the land allotted for industrial purpose, he added.

Opposition whip Satya Bhusan Sahu said a House Committee had been constituted two years ago to probe into alleged irregularities in the allotment of industrial land. However, the committee had met only twice, he rued.

Sahu said Konark Cement and Asbestos Limited had been allotted 17 acres for only Rs 10.71 lakh for setting up an industrial unit. However, it was later allowed to run an engineering college on the land. Besides, 710 acres were allotted in favour of the company regularising encroachment, he alleged.

Industries minister Biswa Bhusan Harichandan assured the members that a probe would be undertaken if they came up with specific allegations on irregularities in land allotment.

He also promised to provide the details within a month relating to land allotment with the name of allottees and the land price and whether the land has been utilised properly.

Anti-asbestos activists get Tribute of Inspiration Award

Government ignores "time bomb" laden lungs

9/1/2009, New Delhi: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) celebrates the "Tribute of Inspiration Award 2009' that has been conferred to Pralhad Malvadkar and Raghunath Manwar by California based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) for their commitment to relenetlessly work for the relief of victims of asbestos exposure in India.

ADAO announced the award on January 8, 2009 for the outstanding work and dedication to asbestos awareness related activities. The winners will receive the awards on the Fifth Annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference scheduled for March 27 – 29 at the Manhattan Beach Marriott in California.

ADAO was founded by asbestos victims and their families. ADAO seeks to give asbestos victims and concerned citizens a voice to help ensure that their rights are fairly represented and protected, while raising public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure and often deadly asbestos related diseases. It is “United for Asbestos Disease Awareness, Education, Advocacy, Prevention, Support and a Cure.”

Pralhad Malvadkar, Raghunath Manwar and BANI is working in a political climate where political parties are either hand in glove with the asbestos industry or they themselves own of asbestos companies. At a time when there is an epidemic of asbestos disease world over, there appears to be political consenus in Indfia to continue expsoing the workers and citizens to the killer fiber in order to safeguard the blood tainted proft for the chrysotle asbestos (white asbestos) industry at any human cost, the acknowldgement by ADAO is indeed quite valuable.

Malvadkar is a former genuine trade unionist devoted to occupational health rights currently working with Occupational Health and Safety Centre (OHSC), Mumbai. He is working to fix the a corrupt and ineffective public health insurance system like Employee's State Insurance Scheme (ESIS), a form of contributory health and accident insurance. But ESIS caretakers often ignore patients suffering from occupational diseases. In a recent report titled India's Asbestos Time Bomb co-published by BANI, Dr. V. Murlidhar from OHSC underlined the "Difficulties in the Diagnosis of Asbestosis in India" and deliberate misreporting of asbestosis as TB in full complicity with the industry. It is in such a context his intervetion for the occupational health rights of asbetsos victims is of enormous importance.

Manwar, a co-founder of BANI is the secretary of the Occupational Health and Safety Association, a voluntary organisation working with asbestos victims in Ahmedabad. He is organizing workers against the occupational health hazards that prevail in their workplace—a fatal result of the corruption that exists at all levels. Workers commonly contract occupational diseases, including pneumosclerosis, psychoneurotic disorders, skin cancer, and asbestosis, which often remain undiagnosed - or misdiagnosed as asthma or bronchitis.

“ADAO is honored to award these inspiring individuals with the top honors that they deserve at the fifth annual Asbestos Awareness Day conference so that we may achieve our ultimate goal of banning asbestos globally,” said Linda Reinstein, Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. “Asbestos Awareness Day is an opportunity to spread awareness about the dangers of asbestos, recognize accomplishments and honor loved ones. We’re so pleased to be holding the conference once again for the fifth year in a row.”

The award honorees are as follows:
• U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer will be presented with the Tribute of Hope Award for her steadfast commitment and determination to ban asbestos.
• Margaret Seminario, AFL/CIO will receive the Tribute of Unity Award for the union's global work to unite, educate and empower asbestos victims, and workers.
• Dr. Stephen Levin, will be recognized with the Dr. Irving Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his dedicated research into the social and medical impact asbestos has had on humankind.
• Pralhad Malvadkar and Raghunath Manwar will be presented with the Tribute of Inspiration Award for being a bridge of hope and strength to victims of asbestos exposure in India and worldwide.

Earlier, European Respiratory Society had warned that "a time bomb in the lungs" may be ticking in developing countries like India where asbestos use is going on unabated and its consumption is rising at an alaraming rate becasue of manifest political patronage the industry enjoys.

Maharashtra state illustatres the expansion of this industry despite Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) categorically saying, There is no indication of a safe level of exposure and "Exposure to Asbestos can lead to Cancer" there are asbestos factories in the Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Kalyan, Nashik, Thane and Aurangabad region. The companies present in these regions include Hindustan Composite Ltd., Swastik roofing Ltd., Visaka Industries Limited, Kross International, Shakti Roofing Pvt. Ltd, Wilson Roofing Product. Pvt. Ltd., Hydrabad Industries Ltd, Roofit Industries Ltd. Wada Arun Asbestos Pvt. Ltd., Eastwell Asbestos Ind. Pvt. Ltd, Everest Industries Ltd, Bosch Chassis Systems Pvt. Ltd. (formerly Kalyani Breaks Ltd.), Champion Seals) Pvt. Ltd, Mechanical Packing Industries Ltd., Jain asbestos and Capital Commerce Pvt. Ltd. (formerly Rufit Industries Ltd.). In Nagpur, Amravati, Navi Mumbai and Raigad regions, there is no unit engaged in manufacturing of asbestos but they too cannot be deemed asbetsos free zones because asbestos products are ubiquitous.

Similar situation exisits across the country. To make matters worse, Kerela, Tamil Nadu and Assam have state owned asbestos companies and West Bengal government has been busy awarding environmental excellence award to a asbestos company. Almost every state in India is flooded with asbetsos products with no database of asbetsos victims due to deliberate non-reporting by government agencies and non-existence of occupational health infrastructure. Government of India has adopted Ostrich policy and seems to be working very hard to ensure that it does not even appear to be working for the occupational health in general and for the relief of present and future victims of white asbestos in particular.

In such a situation, work of likes of Pralhad Malvadkar and Raghunath Manwar assumes huge significance.

For Details:
Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), New Delhi, Mb:9818089660
E-mail:krishnagreen@gmail.com, Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com
Doug Larkin, Director of Communications, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), California
Phone: (202) 391-1546, doug@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

USOSHA imposes fine for lack of asbestos monitoring

Note:One has never heard of any asbestos company being fined for such charges in India. While asbestos might not be beyond monitoring, Indian asbestos companies are so powerful that no government institution dares to monitor them. In fact they compete with each other to public relations work for these companies so that no one can pose any public health document or study or observation to jeopardize brutal quest of their profit at any human cost.

In the US, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Environmental Protection Agency work in tandem despite that 10, 000 people are dying of asbestos diseases there but in India, the relevant agencies National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are defunct Both the Indian agencies have adopted an Ostrich Policy and sought refuge in a make believe world wherein they work overtime to ensure that there is no documentation of asbestos diseases in India.

Asbestos cleanup begins

Brooklyn developer State Assets LLC began asbestos cleanup at 1175 State St. on January, 6 after a multi-agency probe into allegations of unsafe working conditions there resulted in 18 violations from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA fined the firm $48,100 in November,2008 for lack of asbestos monitoring, exposed live electrical wires and unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals, among other citations."

Where Can Asbestos be Found?: USEPA

Asbestos has been commonly used as an acoustic insulator, thermal insulation, fire proofing and in other building materials. Asbestos fibers are incredibly strong and have properties that make them resistant to heat. Many products are in use today that contain asbestos. Most of these are materials used in heat and acoustic insulation, fire proofing, and roofing and flooring. USEPA has identified the following asbestos product categories. Many of these materials may still be in use. These include asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, asbestos-cement pipe asbestos-cement shingle roof coatings, flooring felt, pipeline wrap, roofing felt
asbestos clothing, non-roof coatings vinyl/asbestos floor tile, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, and brake blocks .
Commercial and industrial asbestos friction products like sheet and beater-add gaskets (except specialty industrial) commercial, corrugated and specialty paper, millboard
rollboard.

According to US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry face significant asbestos exposure on the job. Heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, particularly during the removal of asbestos during renovation or demolition. Employees are also likely to be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos products (such as textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work. Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and is highly regulated. OSHA and EPA asbestos rules are intertwined.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Israel to Ban Asbestos

New bill would prevent dangerous asbestos exposure
By Zafrir Rinat

The Environmental Protection Ministry is promoting a bill that will for the first time ever formalize regulations to prevent asbestos exposure. The new bill stipulates that use of the substance will no longer be permitted in Israel and that within up to 10 years, the use of all crushable asbestos will be halted. In addition, the import of asbestos and its byproducts will be prohibited.

A memorandum on the proposed bill, which was recently sent to legal experts and professionals in various government ministries, stipulates a gradual reduction in the still permitted uses of asbestos, as well as its immediate removal from any public structures and industrial enterprises. The bill also proposes to establish a fund to deal with asbestos stockpiles. Half of the fund will be financed by Eitanit, the company that up until a decade ago manufactured asbestos at its Nahariya plant.
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The new bill was drafted after Environmental Protection Ministry officials realized that they had only partial authority to deal with the hazardous substance, which was widely used in the past for insulation. Once the bill becomes law, it will allow for stiff fines of hundreds of thousands of shekels to be imposed on those responsible for asbestos damage, and even assigning criminal responsibility and issuing punishments of up to two years in jail to those who continue to import, manufacture or use the substance.

According to the Environmental Protection Ministry's assessment, there are hundreds of millions of square meters of built-up areas that contain asbestos compounds. Dismantling such structures could spread lethal fibers, which - if inhaled - significantly raises the risk of developing malignant, incurable illnesses. As such, dozens of Israelis suffer from mesothelioma, a fatal disease caused by exposure to asbestos. According to expert assessments, the incidence of this disease in the western Galilee, where the only asbestos plant in Israel used to operate, is 40 times higher than the standard rate around the world.

"If there is asbestos blight, we currently have no efficient legal means of bringing an end to it," says Tamar Bar On, who oversees the treatment of hazardous dust at the Environmental Protection Ministry. "The new bill alters the situation. Among other things, it requires that information about the presence of asbestos be published. Therefore, someone buying or renting a property can be aware of the presence of the substance." According to Environment Minister Gideon Ezra, this is a revolutionary bill and he plans to work toward achieving its passage immediately after the next Knesset convenes.

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