Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) works for Asbestos Free India since 2002. Occupational Health India and ToxicsWatch Alliance are its members that includes occupational health doctors, researchers and activists. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. It works with trade unions, human rights, environmental and public health groups. For Details:krishna1715@gmail.com, oshindia@yahoo.in, toxicswatchallaince@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Are Indian lives so cheap?

BANI's Initial Reaction: Are Indian lives so cheap? Is it worth only Rs 1 lakh each? Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) which is working as a National Alliance for Asbestos Free India and Asbestos Mukti Andolan feels that such cheap assessment of human life is a legacy of British colonialism. British asbestos company, Turner and Newell knowingly exposed the workers to incurable health crisis that was preventable. 

By 1920, Turner & Newall Company knew very much aware that the loss of about one third of its workforce was due to the inhalation of certain dust classified as asbestos, yet it failed to disclose this to its workforce.This demonstrated that the Company placed profits above humanity. it was very dangerous and hazardous to human body. Irrespective of these dangers it maintained the policy of “Secrecy” and ignored all other important issues relating to humanity, such as “Duties of Care, Distributive Justice, Informed Consent and Corporate responsibility.” By 1980, the company's profit was more than £300 million, and the profit making continued until 1980. Up to 16% profit was returned to its shareholders in some years, yet they continued to deny their employees their right to “Health and Safety” environment. 

BANI feels that in such a situation, nothing short of exemplary punishment under criminal law and imposition of huge cost would be and should be deemed adequate. A more considered reaction would be shared after careful perusal of the compensation papers. 

Asbestosis victims win 3 cr compensation from UK Trust

Ex-staffers of Hindustan Composites who were fighting for claims since 2004 will receive over Rs 1 lakh each
Lata Mishra
 
Posted On Friday, December 24, 2010 at 02:50:25 AM
In a payout that could set a precedent, a defunct UK company that made asbestos sheets at its Ghatkopar plant has compensated 95 former workers – and in two cases their spouses – accepting their claims that the nature of their work was responsible for them suffering from asbestosis, a dangerous lung infection that could lead to cancer (see box).

Victims and their relations gather on Thursday at Marathi Patrakar Sangh to receive compensation
Ashish Raje
These 97 people have raised hopes of millions of Indian workers who are fighting for health-related compensation from foreign companies. The workers, formerly employed with Hindustan Composites Ltd, have won compensation of over Rs 3 crore, and each of them will receive between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 8 lakh, depending on the severity of the disease.

Till 1993, UK-based M/s Turner & Newall were one of the major share-holders in Hindustan Composites Ltd, which made brake liners and clutch facings. In 2004, Krantikari Kamgar Union along with Occupational Health and Safety Centre conducted tests on around 180 workers of the company, and around 42 were found to be suffering from asbestosis. A case was filed by the union, which is still pending in the labour court at Mumbai.

In the meantime, M/s Turner & Newall wound up operations and a trust fund was set up to settle claims for asbestosis from all over the world. After months of negotiations, the trust fund agreed to accept medical evidence of the Occupational Health and Safety Centre, and in November this year, 97 people received the first tranche of compensation. The union had forwarded 115 claims.

The two women who won the claim are wives of the company workers. They contracted asbestosis from the clothes of their spouses. One of the women, Indira Pavekar, said, “I received compensation of Rs 7 lakh. My husband had 60 per cent asbestosis. Obviously I am happy to get back something after my husband gave up his health for the sake of the company. This decision sends a message that no company can take their workers’ health for granted.”

Another claim winner, 68-year-old Ganpat Palshetkar, said he received around Rs 8 lakh. “The warehouse was my world. It took away my health, gave me this disease. I hope to put on track whatever remains of my life with this money.”

Krantikari Kamgar Union president Sanjay Singhvi said the aim of the entire campaign was to make sure “foreign companies stop treating In-dian workers like objects for experiment.” He said, “This is a huge victory and the compensation is welcome, but it is not the solution. How can anything substitute health? It’s time all companies create a healthy working environment.”

What is Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory and fibrotic medical condition affecting the lungs. It is caused by inhalation and retention of asbestos fibres and usually occurs after high intensity and/or long-term exposure to asbestos (particularly in those individuals working on production or end-use of products containing asbestos) and is therefore regarded as an occupational lung disease.

People with extensive occupational exposure to mining, manufacturing, handling or removal of asbestos are at risk of developing asbestosis. Sufferers may experience severe shortness of breath and are at risk for lung cancer.

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