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

Friday, June 25, 2010

BANI Supports WTO Challenge against Subsidy for Deadly Asbestos Fibers

Press Release

BANI Supports WTO Challenge against Subsidy for Deadly Asbestos Fibers


New Delhi: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) appeals to the imminent G-20 and G-8 summit during June 26-27 in Toronto to persuade Canadian and Russian government to stop promoting export of asbestos which is an exercise in trade distortion. Dr Manmohan Singh is also attending the summit.

While fifty-two countries have banned all forms of asbestos, India continues to use it under the seemingly insurmountable influence of countries like Canada and Russia, the major asbestos producers of the world.

BANI support EU Parliamentarian’s call for WTO Challenge of $58 Million Loan Guarantee Subsidy for Deadly Export of White Asbestos (Chrysotile asbestos).

The open-pit Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec province, Canada has exported huge amounts of asbestos for the past century. Now, its surface asbestos supply exhausted, the company is under bankruptcy protection. After not being able to find financing on the private market, the mine's owners have sought a $58 million loan guarantee from the Quebec government to open a new underground mine so that it can export asbestos to developing countries for the next 25 years. Under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, a loan guarantee that facilitates financing on terms more favorable than otherwise available in the market is considered a subsidy. The subsidy is expected to be approved by July 1.

BANI appeals to Dr Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister to take cognisance of the asbestos that would be mined at the Jeffrey Mine which would ultimately take toll in India would not enter commerce in Canada. Canada has trade obligations under WTO that forbids export subsidization. While WTO rules generally discipline government subsidies, export subsidies are explicitly forbidden.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minister of Natural Resources, Christian Paradis, is a leading advocate of this major subsidy to boost Canadian exports despite trade pacts rules that forbid export subsidy trade distortions.

BANI endorses Stephen Hughes, European parliamentarian (UK) call for an inquiry seeking a WTO challenge of the proposed Canadian subsidy. The European Union has banned all use of asbestos and extraction, manufacture and processing of asbestos products in 2005.

Public Citizen, a nonprofit public interest organization based in Washington, D.C, is right in saying that a new WTO challenge of a new Canadian export subsidy certainly would make a mockery of the Canadian government's pre-summit briefings that have criticized other countries' purported slide toward protectionism and trade distortions.

Notably, Quebec and the rest of Canada, like other industrialized countries, refuse to use asbestos and are experiencing an epidemic of asbestos-related disease from past use. The world's leading health authorities have called for asbestos to be banned.

BANI endorses Public Citizen's statement underlining the hypocrisy of Canadian government which is violating human rights of workers and consumers in developing countries like India by knowingly exposing them to cancer causing asbestos fibers.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)-ToxicsWatch Alliance, New Delhi, Mb: 9818089660, Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com
Public Citizen’s website: www.citizen.org

EU Parliamentarian Calls for WTO Challenge of $58 Million Loan Guarantee Subsidy for Deadly Exports

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2010

Contact: Bryan Buchanan (202) 454-5108

On Eve of G-20 Summit, Canadian Government Bashes Others for Trade Distortions While Poised to OK Huge Subsidy for Asbestos Exports

EU Parliamentarian Calls for WTO Challenge of $58 Million Loan Guarantee Subsidy for Deadly Exports

WASHINGTON, D.C. - "Hypocrisy!" may be the leading headline coming out of the imminent G-20 and G-8 summits as news of host country Canada's pending $58 million loan guarantee subsidy to restart Canadian asbestos exports slams into the government's recent pre-summit lectures about the need for participating countries to avoid trade distortions, Public Citizen said today.

"The Canadian government endlessly chastises other countries' purported trade distortions but apparently the Harper administration's fealty to free trade does not apply to Canada creating a massive new subsidy that would boost exports of a deadly substance, asbestos," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division.

The open-pit Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, has exported huge amounts of asbestos for the past century. Now, its surface asbestos supply exhausted, the company is under bankruptcy protection. After not being able to find financing on the private market, the mine's owners have sought a $58 million loan guarantee from the Quebec government to open a new underground mine so that it can export asbestos to developing countries for the next 25 years. Under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, a loan guarantee that facilitates financing on terms more favorable than otherwise available in the market is considered a subsidy. The subsidy is expected to be approved by July 1.

Very little of the asbestos that would be mined at the Jeffrey Mine would enter commerce in Canada. Almost all of it would be exported - with much going to WTO-member nations to whom Canada has trade obligations that forbid export subsidization. While WTO rules generally discipline government subsidies, export subsidies are explicitly forbidden.

The Harper government attacked U.S. Buy America provisions in the 2009 Economic Stimulus bill that fully complied with U.S., WTO and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) obligations. Yet, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minister of Natural Resources, Christian Paradis, is a leading advocate of this major subsidy to boost Canadian exports despite trade pacts rules that forbid export subsidy trade distortions.

"You do not have to be a fan of the current trade rules to be outraged by the stunning hypocrisy of the Canadian government supporting a massive government subsidy to resume operations at an asbestos mine whose deadly product will mainly be exported to developing countries," Wallach said.

European parliamentarian Stephen Hughes (U.K.) recently tabled an inquiry calling for a WTO challenge of the proposed Canadian subsidy. The European Union has banned all use of asbestos and extraction, manufacture and processing of asbestos products in 2005.

"A new WTO challenge of a new Canadian export subsidy certainly would make a mockery of the Canadian government's pre-summit briefings that have criticized other countries' purported slide toward protectionism and trade distortions," Wallach said.

Quebec and the rest of Canada, like other industrialized countries, refuse to use asbestos and are experiencing an epidemic of asbestos-related disease from past use. The world's leading health authorities have called for asbestos to be banned. Fifty-two countries have banned all forms of asbestos.


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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit public interest organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org .

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stop subsidy to asbestos mining industry & health disaster

Stop the subsidy to asbestos mining industry & health disaster

To

Mr Pierre Arcand
Minister of International Relations
Qu├ębec Government Office in Mumbai
Consulate General of Canada
6th floor Fort House
221, Dr. D.N. Road
Mumbai – 400 001
Maharashtra, India
Phone : 91-22-6749-4444
Fax : 91-22-6749-4454

Sub-Stop the subsidy to asbestos mining industry & health disaster

Dear Mr Pierre Arcand,

The purpose of this letter is to protest against the Quebec government (Canada) which is all set to provide a large subsidy to save the asbestos mining industry in Canada unmindful of its health consequences in developing countries like India. We are aware that Quebec has only one asbestos mine left, which is nearly exhausted and employs 340. The asbestos cement sheeting industry is growing at a healthy 10-12 per cent a year in India.

We are deeply saddened and disturbed by Quebec government’s double standard on asbestos trade which illustrates Canada's utter callousness towards human rights of asbestos workers and consumers in India. It is unbecoming of Canada to put profits before people unmindful of incurable diseases and preventable deaths .

It is deeply immoral to support an industrial activity which is leading to yet another industrial disaster due to criminal corporate negligence and governmental patronage.

Canada exports the cancer causing fiber to India but prefers not to use it domestically. In India, 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.

I am writing to you on behalf of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), which is working to make India asbestos free to save workers and citizens from cancer causing fibers of death.

In the face massive asbestos exposure underway in India, the recent ban on asbestos laden US ship, The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the ban asbestos order of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission, environment, labour, human rights and health groups appeal to the Prime Minister and to all the parliamentarians to ensure that manufacture, use and trade of asbestos is banned in India. Details of the bill here.

The chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) industry is acting as merchants of death even as workers and consumers are routinely being exposed to deadly asbestos fibers. Notably, worker protections and enviro-occupational health infrastructure are weak or non-existent in India. The silence of the government in the face of workers and consumers who are sick and dying from asbestos-caused cancer is deafening. The Indian parliament and Canadian House of Commons must act to stop the governments from protecting the companies that knowingly commit corporate crimes as is the case with the asbestos industry which is hiding behind manifest immoral patronage of the governments.
It is noteworthy that a US corporation Dow Chemicals Company which is liable for Union Carbide Corporation’s legacy issues such as Bhopal's industrial disaster, held itself liable for asbestos issues and put aside $2.2 billion as “potential cost of resolving pending and future claims against Carbide”, such corporate crimes have become the order of the day because of government's connivance.

We appreciate the civil society in Canada that has called for the, end of asbestos mining, consistent with the position of the World Health Organization (WHO) and over 50 countries that have banned asbestos. A letter addressed to Premier Charest, and jointly endorsed by numerous organizations, was handed over.

We have called upon Prime Minister of India and Quebec’s Premier to stand up to the powerful asbestos industry in both countries which is spending millions of dollars to intimidate and silence workers, doctors, scientists and activists who are all for banning asbestos. Victims of asbestos related diseases, who are dying a slow death with no legal and medical remedy in sight.

We understand that if the new mining operation opens, it will export asbestos to poor countries for the next 25 years. The Quebec propaganda machine using Canadian embassies has consistently worked to thwart public health efforts around the world by promoting killer fibers of Canadian asbestos. Earlier on March 23, 2010 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper deemed it fit to give $250,000 of taxpayer money to the Chrysotile Institute (formerly called the Asbestos Institute), a group that promotes the use of asbestos in developing countries. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources meeting on 22 March dealt with the $250,000 funding for the Chrysotile Institute.
The Economic Development Agency of Canada and the Department of Natural Resources have given the Chrysotile Institute (formerly called the Asbestos Institute) more than $20 million over the past 25 years. In February 2008, Harper government had announced gnt of $750,000 to the Chrysotile Institute for the next three years. We are shocked to note that your government is feigning ignorance about WHO estimates at least 100,000 deaths from asbestos every year and the total may eventually be 5-10 million.

Public health researchers are deeply concerned about the alarming rate of consumption. In 2008, the use of 348,538 tonnes of asbestos made India the world's 3rd largest asbestos market; since 2004, consumption has risen by 83%. Cumulative asbestos usage in India has been estimated at 7,343,612 tonnes. In the UK consumption of 6 million tonnes has produced the country's worst epidemic of occupational disease and death. The condition in India due to asbestos is already an unacknowledged public health disaster with no medical infrastructure to deal with such enviro-occupational diseases.

The safe use of any form of asbestos is “impossible anywhere in the world”.

On behalf of BANI, we appeal to your government and Canadian government through you to adopt safer alternatives of fibers of death instead of promoting it.

Warm Regards
Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)-ToxicsWatch Alliance
New Delhi
Mb: 9818089660
Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Cc
Prime Minister of Canada
Prime Minister of India
Premier of Quebec
Union Environment & Forests Minister
Union Ministry of Mines
Union Commerce Ministry
Union Finance Ministry
Union Chemicals Ministry
Cabinet Secretary, Government of India
Union Environment Secretary

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