Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union leader Purnendu Majumadar. It has been working for last 17 years. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. For Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Refraining from treading the path of legislature, which is already seized of a bill seeking ban on asbestos, the court said the regulatory body must be considerate to the health of workmen involved in mining or manufacturing asbestos.
Acting under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the authorities should ensure all “appropriate and protective steps to meet specified standards are taken by the industry before or at the time of issuance of environmental clearance”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia has refused to ban asbestos, but it feels that it’s imperative to issue the directions in order to “strike a balance between health hazards posed by this activity and the ground reality that a large number of families all over the country are dependent for livelihood on it”.
White asbestos is highly carcinogenic. Countries, mainly Canada and Russia, which export it to India without restriction prefer not to use it domestically. In 2007, Canada exported almost 90% of white asbestos it mined, 43% of it to India.
US-based Drexel University professor and chair of department of environmental and occupational health Arthur Frank warns, “We can expect a lot more death and disease in India. There is no champion for elimination or reduction in use of asbestos.”
Published: Monday, Jan 24, 2011, 0:13 IST
By Rakesh Bhatnagar | Place: New Delhi
Note: The bench comprising Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia, Justice Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar has further directed “we direct that if Union of India considers it proper and in public interest, after consulting the States where there are large number of asbestos industries in existence, it should constitute a regulatory body to exercise proper control and supervision over manufacturing of asbestos activities while ensuring due regard to the aspect of health care of the workmen involved in such activity. It may even constitute a Committee of such experts as it may deem appropriate to effectively prevent and control its hazardous effects on the health of the workmen”.
BANI Condemns Police Brutality on Anti-Asbestos Villagers
Bihar Takes Singur Path, for Asbestos based Industrialization Six Asbestos Plants in the OffingBANI SEEKS IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION OF UNION ENVIRONMENT MINISTER & BIHAR CHIEF MINISTER
New Delhi/Patna 23/1/2011: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) condemns the lathi charge and police firing on villagers of Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur, Bihar who are protesting against the construction of proposed asbestos plants. The colossal ignorance of Bihar government about the fact that more than 55 countries have banned asbestos of all kinds including chrystotile (white) asbestos is shocking.
BANI supports the Asbestos Virodhi Nagrik Manch and Khet Bachao Jeewan Bachao Jan Sangharsh Committee and their efforts to save present and future generations from the exposures of killer fibers of white asbestos.
BANI appeals to the Chief Minister and the Union Environment Minister, the concerned organizations and political parties to visit those villagers including women who have been injured in police firing to take stock of the situation in order to prevent the peaceful movement against asbestos plant from becoming violent.
Bihar government must assure the villagers and their committee that no police action will be allowed in future and those policemen responsible for such violence will be punished. It is learnt that some 20 people have suffered due to lathi charge and police firing and they are admitted in the hospitals. The injured include Sheela Devi, Rajo Devi, Sidheshwar Ram, Ganga Ram, Hare Krishna, Manoj Paswan, Suhati Devi, Kalash Devi, Saroj Kumar and several others.
The Chief Minister must intervene at the earliest to avoid such blood soaked industrialization and promote sustainable agro-based industries. The cases against the leaders of Khet Bachao Jeewan Bachao Jan Sangharsh Committee who have been framed must be withdrawn. Encouraging hazardous industries like asbestos based plants which is one of 64 heavily polluting industries under Red Category is quite myopic.
BANI calls on the Bihar Industries Association (BIA) and Bihar Chamber of Commerce (BCC) to persuade the proponents of the asbestos plants to establish plants which would could act as alternatives of the killer fibers as is being done in over 55 countries.
Instead of educating itself about the incurable diseases caused by the killer fibers of asbestos and the impossibility any technology in the world to save villagers and its workers, it is quite absurd for the Bihar Government to construction with the help of Police force akin to what seemed to have been attempted in Singur, West Bengal.
Bihar government should re-visit the Biology and Chemistry text books of Class Xth and Intermediate taught in its schools all over the state. These textbooks reveal that asbestos causes incurable diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The Class XIIth textbook titled Inter Rasayan at page no. 2-345 categorically says, “Asbestos is a particulate pollutant of the atmosphere. In the process of preparation of asbestos sheet, the asbestos particles become airborne. If one breathes such air for a long period it causes asbestosis disease”.
Unmindful of this some 12 asbestos based plants are proposed in Bihar. It is also apprehended that some cement plants have hidden the fact that their factories are asbestos based cement plants.
BANI appeals to Bihar government and the Union Environment Ministry to stop the proposed asbestos plants in Bihar. These include:
1) Chennai based Ramco Industries Ltd for establishment of 1,20,000 MT/Annum Capacity of Asbestos Cement Sheet Plant and 2 Lakh MT/Annum Capacity of Cement Grinding Plant at Industrial Area, Bihiya, Bhojpur
2) Chennai based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd for establishment of the One Lakh MT Capacity Asbestos Fiber Cement Corrugated Sheet, Flat Sheet and Accessories and Light Weight Fly Ash Block Plant at Industrial Growth Centre, Giddha, Ara, Bhojpur
3) Andhra Pradesh based Hyderabad Industries Ltd for establishment of 2,50,000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement Sheeting Plant in two Phases at Kumarbagh Industrial Area, West Champaran
4) Kolkata based Balmukund Cement & Roofings Ltd for establishment of 1.5 Lakh MT capacity production unit of Asbestos Fiber Cement Sheet (Corrugated/Flat) and Accessories at Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur
5) Kolkata based UAL Industries Ltd for Establishment of 2, 33, 000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement Sheet and Corrugated Sheets Plant in two phases at Goraul, Vaishali in the name of UAL-Bihar. Earlier it was proposed at Bakhtiyarpur
6) Rajasthan based A Infrastructure Ltd for establishment of 1, 25, 000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement (A.C.) Sheet and 1,00,000 MT per year capacity A.C. Pressure Pipe at Pandaul Industrial Area, Madhubani. Earlier it was proposed in Industrial Area, Kumarbagh, Bettiah
Residents of Bhojpur, Bettiah, Vaishali, Madhubani, West Champaran, Muzaffarpur and other places in Bihar where Chrysotile (white asbestos) based plants are faced with the disastrous consequences of various types of cancers, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Epidemiological and toxicological studies and laboratory experiments have demonstrate this and established it the impossibility of safe and controlled use of white asbestos myth about which are being propagated by the government having been misled by the industry.
Will the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma and Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh see the writing on the wall and act to take steps to make our country asbestos free and not succumb to pressure from asbestos companies? The writing is attached.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)/Asbestos Mukti Andolan, Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480, E-mail:email@example.com
Patna: The battle over the proposed asbestos factory in the village of Bishnupur-Chainpur in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district took yet another sordid turn on Saturday as the district police resorted to lathi-charge and firing to disperse the demonstrators, injuring at least a dozen villagers, four of them women.
The village, which falls under Muzaffarpur's Marwan lock, has been on the boil since July with villagers and activists consistently opposing the construction of Kolkata-based Balmukund Cement and Roofing Ltd (BCRL)'s 31 crore factory, alleging flagrant violation of procedural norms and non-disclosure of health hazards on part of the company management.
The incident took place in the afternoon when a large group of villagers sat on a ‘dharna' to protest against the construction of the company.
“It was then that the district police beat up some of the villagers, while lobbing tear gas shells to disperse them. When a large crowd of residents gathered to protest [against] this, the police resorted to firing,” said Ram Naresh Prasad Singh, convener of the Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a local forum set up to combat the asbestos threat on the district.
The injured villagers have been admitted to a local district hospital.
The Muzaffarpur District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police have not reacted to the incident, despite efforts to contact them.
“The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had warned the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Monday that there was a strong possibility of a bloodbath in Bishnupur-Chainpur if present conditions are allowed to persist,” said Mr. Gopal Krishna, Convener of the Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI).
Despite assurances by Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh to look into the matter, this is the second such incident in a month after villagers alleged firing by company-hired minions to disrupt proceedings in December.
The MoEF had given environmental clearance to BCRL in October 2010.
Apart from Chainpur, there have been angry protests by villagers and activists against the two asbestos plants to be set up in Bhojpur district as well.
The first such plant is to be set up by Chennai-based Ramco Industries Ltd. in Bhojpur's Bihiya block. The proposal is to establish a 120,000 MT/annum capacity of Asbestos Cement Sheet Plant and a 2 lakh MT/annum capacity of Asbestos Grinding Plant at Industrial Area.
The second one, a 1 Lakh MT Capacity Asbestos Fiber Cement Corrugated Sheet, is to be set up by the Chennai-based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd at Giddha in Ara.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Villagers nail EIA lies
Draft report says:
- The EIA project consultant, Shiva Test House, says project land is barren
- Dwells on the population within a 10 km radius to hide the population density near the site
- Shows Roksa village at 3 km distance from site; mentions a river Baya
- Project will draw 300 cubic metre groundwater daily but does not show what impact it will have on people
- The site and its adjoining farms grow mangoes, lychees, wheat, rice, seasonal vegetables and mustard
- The site is surrounded by eight schools and eight villages with populations ranging from 8,000 to 20,000.
- Roksa is 600-700 metres from the site; there is no river Baya in the area
- No surveys conducted for preparing baseline data
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Leaders of the CPI, CPM, CPI(ML) and SUCI feared that the factory would not only cause environmental hazards to the "bahu fasli" (multi-cropping) fertile land but would also cause health problems for the people living near the factory site.
On January 12, a four-member team constituted by the four parties conducted a probe into the existing situation in the area. It felt that the area lying within the 500-metre radius of the factory was fast turning into a potential flashpoint with old men, women and schoolchildren taking to the streets against the setting up of the factory .
The four-member probe team consisted of CPI state executive member Vijay Narayan Mishra, CPM state secretariat member Arun Mishra, CPI(ML) state secretariat member Dhirendra Jha and Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) state secretariat member Arun Kumar Singh.
Read more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/Left-parties-against-setting-up-asbestos-unit-/articleshow/7279661.cms#ixzz1BPefstRv
Hit by international and domestic reports that asbestos can pose huge public health risk, the Environment ministry has sought an explanation from the Bihar government for allowing such plants in poverty-hit Muzaffarnagar district in north part of the state. Bihar government has given permission for setting up as many as 12 plants for manufacturing asbestos laden cement roofing sheets, whose demand has increase phenomenally in Bihar in recent years.
The plants based on Chrysotile - the chemical name for white asbestos, which accounts for more than 95% of the present world trade in asbestos -- has resulted in stiff resistance from locals because of its possible health impact.
While the locals have been petitioning environment minister Jairam Ramesh since May 2010, he has apparently acted on view of health experts who said that white asbestos in any form could be carcinogenic and as many as 54 countries have banned the asbestos among Indian states, Kerala has banned use of asbestos in school buildings.
But, Bihar allowed the plants as part of its industry-friendly policy to attract investments.
Ramesh on Tuesday confirmed that explanation has been sought but refused to divulge the details.
"Asbestos is a highly hazardous material to human health and both - occupational as well as non-occupational exposures -- are associated with mesothelioma and other malignancies among humans," said Sanjay Chaturvedi, head of Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medical Science in the Delhi University.
He was one of the experts whose opinion was a reaction for ministry's action. The minister had also examined a recent study by Lancet report, which quoted a World Health Organisation report to say that 125 million people around the world are exposed to asbestos risk.
In the past, Ramesh has banned asbestos laden US ship to come to Alang but the government has failed to declare a national policy on asbestos in absence of a comprehensive scientific study on its impact.
The Ahmedabad based National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) has been asked to conduct a study on environment and health impacts of asbestos in the work zone and assess its impact on workers and those living in the vicinity. The institute is yet to submit its report even though officially the ministry has described asbestos as "safe".
Mining asbestos in India is banned but its use in manufacturing sector is allowed. Most of raw asbestos is imported from Russia and Canada.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Countries that have Banned Asbestos
Current Asbestos Bans and Restrictions
National Asbestos Bans:1
Note. Singapore and Taiwan have been removed from the ban list (Oct 2010). Although no further use of asbestos is anticipated in these two countries we have no hard evidence that comprehensive formal bans exist in either Singapore or Taiwan.
Exemptions for minor uses are permitted in some countries listed; however, all countries listed must have banned the use of all types of asbestos. Additionally, we seek to ensure that all general use of asbestos, i.e. in construction, insulation, textiles, etc., has been expressly prohibited. The exemptions usually encountered are for specialist seals and gaskets; in a few countries there is an interim period where asbestos brake pads are permitted.
Croatia banned asbestos as of January 1, 2006. Six weeks later, the Ministry of Economy, under political and commercial pressure, forced the Ministry of Health to reverse its position with the result that the manufacture of asbestos-containing products for export was permitted again.
An immediate ban on amosite and crocidolite was imposed on August 16, 2005; a grace period of one year was allowed for the phasing out of the use of tremolite, chrysotile, anthophyllite and actinolite in friction products, brake linings and clutch pads. After August 16, 2006, all forms of asbestos were to be banned for all uses.
* January 1, 2005 was the deadline for prohibiting the new use of chrysotile, other forms of asbestos having been banned previously, in all 25 Member States of the European Union; compliance with this directive has not been verified in countries with an asterisk (*). As of May 2009 there are 27 Member States, with Romania and Bulgaria joining the EU in 2007.
Patna, Jan. 13: The fate of the asbestos factory to be set up by Calcutta-based Balmukund Cement and Roofing Limited (BCRL) at Bishnupur-Chainpur in Muzaffarpur is hanging in the balance.
Union minister of environment and forest Jairam Ramesh said his department would look into the matter before the project proceeds any further.
Ramesh told The Telegraph: “I have asked the officials of my department to look into the matter and submit a report within a week.”
The issue came to the fore after residents of Bishnupur-Chainpur village protested against the setting up of the factory because of possible environmental hazards. An impasse between the village residents and the company management has been on since last month.
Environmentalists and experts on asbestos from many parts of the world have petitioned chief minister Nitish Kumar urging him to stop the factory from being set up. The issue caught national attention after noted environmental consultant and asbestos hazard expert Barry Castleman wrote letters to Nitish and Ramesh drawing their attention over the issue.
The movement to shelve the asbestos factory has been spearheaded by SUCI and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) since July last year.
The residents of the area have protested against the district administration for setting up the plant. Police lathi charged the activists who had gathered at the demonstration in front of the district headquarters in Muzaffarpur. Two leaders of the movement Tarkeshwar Giri and Kumud Ram were also arrested.
Medha Patkar, social worker and convener of National Alliance for People’s Movement, wrote a letter to Nitish demanding that Giri and Ram be released unconditionally.
Patkar, in her letter, said under National Rehabilitation Policy of 2007, it is the responsibility of the state government to ensure that farmlands are distributed properly.
The state industry department principal secretary, C.K. Mishra, said: “We have asked the district administration to hold talks with the two parties — the non-governmental organisation and the management of the company to find a solution.” Mishra added that BCRL had started setting up the factory only after getting clearance from the pollution control board.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
“The Economic Impact of the Banning of the Use of Asbestos in Brazil,” by Ana Lucia Gonçalves da Silva and Carlos Raul Eulaini,” Jornal da Unicamp, November 29-December 12, 2010, No. 483; the Jornal is now in its 14th year of publication.
Asbestos is considered to be a carcinogenic substance by the World Health Organization (WHO) which recommends the substitution of this mineral fiber by alternative materials.
Resolution 162 (of which Brazil is a signatory) approved in 1986 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), made the same recommendation, in addition to prescribing measures for the prevention and control of health risks. In 2006 the ILO moved forward in this area with a new resolution advocating the elimination of all forms of asbestos. At present, 58 countries prohibit the utilization of this mineral fiber. Despite the recognized disease-causing potential of all kinds of asbestos, and the fact that there is no safe limit of exposure, the type of asbestos known as chrysotile is still utilized in Brazil and in other countries, mostly in the manufacture of fiber-cement products, such as roof tiles and panels and water tanks.
In 2004, the federal government in
The defenders of the continued use of asbestos base their position on the following economic arguments:
a) The prices of non-asbestos fiber-cement roof tiles and panels are supposedly higher than those of fiber-cement tiles which contain asbestos. According to IBC, products which utilize artificial fibers are 30% to 40% more expensive, and the banning of asbestos-cement tile would increase this difference in prices.
b) Banning of asbestos use would be likely to put pressure on
c) It is argued that there would be a negative effect on jobs and income throughout the entire range of asbestos-containing products. Asbestos advocates stress that a total of 170,000 jobs have been created in the mining, manufacture, transport, distribution, and resale of asbestos products, and that an asbestos ban would would have a very serious effect on this entire line of products. However if we take into account both the direct and indirect jobs, this estimate is inconsistent with known facts. By law, companies which handle asbestos—whether in production, transport, or purveying of services—are required to register with the Ministry of Work and Employment (MTE) and, according to February 2005 figures in this registry, these companies employed 16,863 workers, of which 3,893 were in the fiber-cement sector and
d) When the question of the loss of tax revenues is examined, the Sama company pays 53 million reals (US$31 million) per year in federal, state, and county taxes and 9 million reals (US$6 million) in valued-added taxes (ICMS). IBC goes on to point out that
e) And finally, there would be a very strong negative effect on
In our research we found, however that the supposed higher prices of non-asbestos products have not been confirmed. The research we have seen shows that the prices of fiber-cement products with and without asbestos are practically the same, especially since the IBC assumes, mistakenly, that the proposed change to asbestos-free fiber-cement products would be immediate and total, which we believe is unlikely. Defenders of asbestos products have made other incorrect assumptions as well: i) that Brazil lacks high-quality non-asbestos products and technology; ii) that businesses will be unable to supply the increased demand resulting from the race to convert to alternative products; iii) that the termination of the production of asbestos fiber will impede productive activity at all levels of the use of fiber-cement products; iv) and finally, that raising the demand for alternative fibers will not be sufficient to stimulate investments in Brazil to meet that demand, which will have to be met through imports.
The research results we have developed at Unicamp have made it possible for us to come to opposite conclusions and to refute these incorrect hypotheses. The real facts are as follows:
2) Even with a ban in the production of asbestos fibers, there will be no downstream supply problems in the fiber-cement industry. The negative economic effects will be felt only in the sphere of asbestos extraction (which in 2007 employed 156 workers in mining and
3) Furthermore, we do not expect serious changes in the prices of alternative products. During a short transition period, these products may cost up to of 10% more, which will be alleviated by the fact that special safety procedures will not be necessary during the installation, maintenance, and remodeling with non- asbestos fiber-cement products. Banning asbestos will eliminate the constant risk to workers and occupants of building projects, and the special costs of demolition, removal, and disposal of asbestos waste will be avoided. At this point we should recall that the recently-approved National Policy on Solid Wastes prescribes measures to oblige companies which employ environmentally hazardous technologies to assume responsibility for dealing with these hazards. Furthermore, we must take into account that in addition an increase in the supply of non-asbestos fiber-cement roof tiles and panels, there are other types of tiles, especially ceramic tiles, where there is a very strong price competition. For those reasons there will be no shortage of roof tiles and other fiber-cement products, nor do we anticipate an increase in the cost of construction triggered by an asbestos ban. It is well known that upward price pressures are common during periods of prosperity in the construction industry, which are unrelated to an asbestos ban. Thus, for example, the price per ton of asbestos fiber produced by Sama rose 20% between the first and second semester of 2008, according to the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM).
During the 20th century, the asbestos industry, in collaboration with some leaders of the field of occupational medicine, sought to discount evidence against the use of asbestos. With the asbestos ban in an increasing number of developed countries, the producers of chrysotile turned their attention to the developing countries, in an effort, once again, to repeat traditional strategies for the legitimization of the use of asbestos. The most striking example is that of
It is in this context that the debate over the ban on asbestos in
Despite the lack of federal action, in the last decade
Effective control of the risks created by asbestos will require a complete ban on the mining, transport, manufacture, sale, and utilization of asbestos, in all its forms, throughout
 “Unicamp” is the comon abbreviation for the State University of Campinas (Universidade Estadual de Campinas) , in
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