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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Indian Position at UN's Rotterdam Convention's COP5

To

Shri Nitish Kumar
Chief Minister
Government of Bihar
Patna

Subject-Indian Position at UN's Rotterdam Convention's COP5

Sir,

This is to draw your attention towards the upcomg UN's Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties (COP5) in Geneva June 20 – 24, 2011 the recommendation of the Convention’s scientific experts to list chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) will be put forward once again. I am copying this message to world renowned environmental and occupational health experts and jurists for their advice.

I wish to submit that the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade to be held in Geneva wherein the fate of Endosulfan, Chrysotile asbestos and some other chemicals will be decided. The objective of the Rotterdam Convention “is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm.”

I am attaching my letter to a Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and Smt Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha and former Union Health Minister in this regard for your perusal and consideration.

The UN's Rotterdam Convention provides a basic human right for developing countries – the right of “prior informed consent” regarding hazardous chemicals & pesticides. To date, under the influence of Quebec govt and Russian govt, Indian
govt has refused to support this basic human right.

I wish to draw your attention towards Union Environment Ministry’s 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 which reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”. This is available on Ministry’s website.

In order to meet its objective, COP5 of Rotterdam Convention will consider the inclusion in Annex III of chrysotile asbestos, Endosulfan, Alachlor and Aldicarb under agenda item 5 c during the meeting scheduled for June 20-24, 2011.

It is noteworthy that the inclusion in Annex III of Rotterdam Convention does not equate to a prohibition of trade. It imposes requirements on exporting nations to provide basic information to consumers and customers environmental health hazards due to certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

I wish to inform you that there has been several attempts to include chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) on the prior informed consent list have failed due to the influence of asbestos producing countries who are compelled by their companies led by Quebec based Canadian companies who have succeeded in preventing any action on chrysotile asbestos being taken.

I submit that discussions on chrysotile asbestos at the COP 4 of Rotterdam Convention in 2008 took a decision to examine its listing at COP5 in June 2011.

In a statement as Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ministry, you had informed the Rajya Sabha saying: "Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma'' on August 18, 2003.

This clearly implies that white asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is a health hazard which is essentially what COP5 is to decide in Geneva. As you are aware White asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is used mainly for water pipes or as roofing sheets in construction industry. Asbestos dust can be inhaled while drilling, cutting a pipe, repairing, renovating or demolishing a building and its effects are far-reaching, affecting everyone from the person mining it to the ultimate consumer. Clinical reports show that asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer can show up even 25 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

In view of the above mentioned facts, I request you to recommend to CCEA to support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention.

I will be happy to share more details in this regard.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
Member, Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA)
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi
Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480
E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com, krishna1764@rediffmail.com
Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Saturday, May 28, 2011

BANI Welcomes Siddiqui's Call for Ban on Asbestos, a hidden time bomb

Press Note

BANI Welcomes Siddiqui's Call for Ban on Asbestos, a hidden time bomb

Modi's Statement 'No health hazard from asbestos products' Condemned


BANI Awaits Inquiry Report by Industry Dept into demand for closure of the
proposed asbestos plant


New Delhi/Patna/28/5/2011: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) appreciates the demand of Bihar's Leader of Opposition, Abdul Bari Siddiqui seeking ban on asbestos products and plants on health grounds and it condemns the unscientific statement of Sushil Kumar Modi, Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister.

The villagers campaign against the three asbestos plants of Chennai based Ramco Industries Ltd. and Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd in Bihiya and Gidha, Kiolwar, Bhojpur seeks stoppage of these plants. Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, Ara has expressed support for the ongoing ban asbestos campaign in Bhojpur.

It must be noted that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists conducted a nine-month investigation and found that a global network of lobby groups have spent nearly $100 million since the mid-1980s to preserve the international market for asbestos, a known carcinogen that’s taken millions of lives and is banned in 55 countries. These findings are easily available on the internet.

After a Citizens March in Patna led by left parties in February 2011 in support of the struggle by Khet Bachao Jeewan Bachao Jan Sangharsh Committee, the Chief Minister's Secretariat ordered an inquiry by Secretary, Department of Industry into the peoples’ demand for closure of the proposed asbestos plant at Muzaffarpur. BANI was part of the delegation that had submitted the memorandum of demands to the Chief Minister's Office. The report of this inquiry is still awaited.
Revealing fissures in the ruling coalition of Janta Dal (United) and Bhartiya Janta Party, while the Chief Minister has ordered an inquiry into the demand for closure of asbestos plant, the Deputy Chief Minister has alloted land for four asbestos plants.

The Janta Dal (United) led alliance seems to be pursuing the path of West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who awarded the ‘Environment Excellence Award’ to an asbestos company (UAL-Bengal) and met with electoral defeat.

As part of the same lobbying efforts, Bihar Industry Association, Chrysotile Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association (CACPMA) and Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association of India (ASCMA) have pressurized the Bihar Government to provide support for asbestos industry unmindful of the consequences of exposure from the killer fibers of asbestos. The asbestos industry is knowingly exposing unsuspecting workers, their families and consumers with impunity because of undue political patronage.

While the medical and financial relief (compensation) for the illness of workers, their families and consumers must be borne by the companies in question, in India because of incestuous relationship with some ruling party politicians, the asbestos companies have escaped liability and have not been made accountable.

Referring to pro-asbestos campaign unleashed by the asbestos industry, Jukka Takala, Director, European Agency for Safety & Health at Work who was formerly with International Labour Organisation said,“It’s totally unethical. It’s almost criminal. Asbestos cannot be used safely. It is clearly a carcinogen. It kills people.”

Dr Barry Castleman, the author of "Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects" which is deemed the most authoritative text book on asbestos says, “Anybody who talks about safe and controlled asbestos use is either a liar or a fool”*. Dr Castleman is a fellow of the Italy based The Collegium Ramazzini is an independent, international academy founded in 1982 by Irving J. Selikoff, Cesare Maltoni and other eminent scientists.

It must be noted that Dr Irving Selikoff, Director, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York had been studying the effects of occupational asbestos since the 1950s. He described the lethal dust of the fibrous mineral as "a hidden time bomb". He received awards from the American Public Health Association, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the American Cancer Society. Even at the age of 75, he continued to research the effects of asbestos. He died on May 20, 1992. BANI salutes Dr Selikoff's contribution in the field of occupational and environmental health.

Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister must pay heed to the following points and withdraw his asbestos promotion policy that is denigrating Bihar's stature as state with scientific temper:

1. Union Environment Ministry's 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 that reads: "Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out". This is available on Ministry's website. This finds resonance in Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order of 21st January, 2011.

2. In its order Hon’ble Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar observed in para 15, “the Government has already presented the Bill in Rajya Sabha. The statement of objects and reasons of this Bill specifically notices that the white asbestos is highly carcinogenic and it has been so reported by the World Health Organisation. In India, it is imported without any restriction while even its domestic use is not preferred by the exporting countries.” Hon’ble Court further notes, “Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported 95% of the white asbestos, it mined out of which 43% was shipped to India. In view of these facts, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative materials. The Bill is yet to be passed but it is clearly demonstrated that the Government is required to take effective steps to prevent hazardous impact of use of asbestos.”

3. The WHO and ILO Resolutions have called for elimination of future use of asbestos. The relevant documents are availble on their website. The ILO Resolution is attached and WHO Factsheet on elimination of asbestos-related diseases is available here
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs343/en/index.html

4. The cancer causing nature of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) fibres has been acknowledged since 1977 by the International bodies, such as International Agency for Research on Cancer and the WHO. In these circumstances, we find that the panel remained well within the bounds in its discretion in finding that chrysotile cement products pose a risk to human life or health.

5. The Kerala State Human Rights Commission on 31st January, 2009 considered the problem created by asbestos and directed that the use of asbestos for roofing the school buildings and hospitals should be stopped and they should be replaced with country tiles. The Kerala State Human Rights Commission, while giving these directions, has considered the judgment of the Supreme Court.

6. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) too has passed an order in Case No:693/30/97-98 recommending that the asbestos sheets roofing be replaced with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful. The Annual Report of NHRC 2003-2004 refers to a Report entitled “Asbestos – Health and Environment – an in-depth Study “submitted by the Institute of Public Health Engineers, India. The study underlines that safe and controlled use of asbestos is not possible. The asbestos related disease are incurable and fatal. Human biology is same everywhere if the asbestos is deemed hazardous in the developed countries, it must be deemed so in Bhojpur, Bihar as well.

7. In such a backdrop, it is apt for the Bihar Government to take a
position on asbestos of all kinds including chrysotile asbestos and
recommend its phase out to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)

8. As Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Parliament that
"long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of
asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma". How can Bihar's Health Minister, Ashwini Kumar Chaubey and Bihar's Environment Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi be ignorant about it? How can Dr C P Thakur, former Union Health Minister from Bihar maintain a studied silence on such a critical public health issue. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar must verify the truth about incurable cancer causing nature of any type of asbestos from Smt Sushma Swaraj.

It is widely acknowledged that Industry-funded science on chrysotile began
in earnest in the mid-1960s, when damning studies on asbestos cast unwanted scrutiny on Quebec’s then-thriving mines. Minutes of the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association’s November 1965 meeting suggest that the group saw the tobacco industry as a paradigm: It “was recalled that the tobacco industry launched its own (research) program and it now knows where it stands. Industry is always well advised to look after its own problems.”

The Canada based Chrysotile Institute and its network stretches from Patna, New Delhi to Mexico City to the city of Asbest in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Its message is that asbestos can be used safely under mythical “controlled” conditions. As a result, asbestos use is growing rapidly in countries such as India, prompting health experts to warn of future epidemics of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an aggressive malignancy that usually attacks the lining of the lungs.

Besides three asbestos plants in Bhojpur, some of the other upcoming plants in Bihar are:
• Andhra Pradesh based Hyderabad Industries Ltd at Kumarbagh Industrial
Area, West Champaran.
• Kolkata based Balmukund Cement & Roofings Ltd at Chainpur-Bishunpur,
Marwan, Muzaffarpur.
• Kolkata based UAL Industries Ltd at Goraul, Vaishali in the name of
UAL-Bihar.
• Rajasthan based Infrastructure Ltd at Pandaul Industrial Area, Madhubani.

The opposition parties have joined hands to oppose these asbestos plants. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLA from Jagdishpur Dinesh Singh has also raised the demand of closure of asbestos plants in Bhojpur and other places in the state assembly.

*For Details*: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb:
09818089660, E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, banasbestosbhojpur@gmail.com,
Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com,Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

Health Impact of Bihar's Asbestos Promotion Policy

To

Dr. B.S. Rajput
Consultant
Joint Replacement and Stem Cell Transplant Surgeon
Breach Candy hospital,
Mumbai

Subject-Seeking Advice for Health Impact of Bihar's Asbestos Promotion Policy

Sir,

This is with reference to your article dated 17 May, 2011 in Dainik Jagran wherein you referred to incurable industrial lung disease (ILD) or lung fibrosis caused by atmospheric pollutants like asbestos of all kinds and how medical science in general and stem cell transplant research is grappling with it. This very newspaper has reported on 20th May, 2011 that asbestos plants of Bhojpur have reached production stage.

As you are aware about the diseases caused due to exposure to asbestos fibers, it is germane to request you to advise Bihar and central government to abandon its asbestos promotion policy. Union Budget 2011 also referred to diseases caused by asbestos despite this Bihar Government has allotted land for four asbestos plants. It is relevant to inform you that a New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including Chrysotile from India was adopted after the conclusion of International Conference on "Emerging Trends in Preventing Occupational Respiratory Diseases and Cancers in Workplace" at Maulana Azad Medical College in March 2011 that expressed grave concern about asbestos related diseases like lung cancer in the national capital. (The Declaration is given below)

With this letter, I am seeking your support in persuading the Chief Minister of Bihar, a seemingly progressive politician to stop the three asbestos plants in Bhojpur, Bihar. Two of these plants have just been set up in Bihiya, Bhojpur, Bihar by Tamil Nadu based company, Ramco Industries Ltd. The third one has just been set up at Giddha, Koilwar Block, Bhojpur, Bihar by Tamil Nadu based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd. In neighboring Sri Lanka an erudite committee has been appointed to look into health and environmental hazards of the use of asbestos. The committee was appointed considering the world trends to abandon the use of asbestos due to their negative impacts. In a communication to us Dr Charitha Herath, Chairman Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Sri Lanka informed, "We at the CEA are trying our best to study the matter of Asbestos and to take an appropriate action." Unmindful of incurable disease caused by asbestos fibers, Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd has proposed a plant in Sri Lanka too.

It is noteworthy that on 10th May, 2010, the project of Ramco Industries was discussed by the Experts Appraisal Committee (EAC), Industry of Union Environment Ministry. In the minutes of the EAC, there is explicit reference to "Health Management Plan for Mesothalimoa, Lung cancer and Asbestosis related problems in asbestos industries".

I wish to draw your attention towards a July 2010 editorial "A Repeat Call for the Banning of Asbestos" published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a monthly journal of peer-reviewed research and news published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services merits attention in this regard. The editorial is attached.

In a statement as Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ministry, Sushma Swaraj had informed the Rajya Sabha saying: "Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma'' on August 18, 2003.

More than 55 countries have banned the use of all forms of asbestos including chrysotile (white asbestos) and how the Kerala State Human Rights Commission considered the problem created by asbestos and directed that the use of asbestos for roofing the school buildings should be stopped and they should be replaced with country tiles. The recent Supreme Court order dated 21st January, 2011 takes cognizance of the Ban White Asbestos Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

I submit that asbestos dust and fibers can be inhaled while drilling, cutting a pipe, repairing, renovating or demolishing a building and its effects are far-reaching, affecting everyone from the person mining it, manufacturing asbestos based products to the ultimate consumer and their families. Clinical reports show that asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer can show up even 25 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos is a term used for a group of naturally occurring, fibrous minerals. The main types of asbestos commercially used are: Crocidolite (blue), Amosite (brown), Chrysotile (white). Asbestos is used extensively in building materials in both urban and rural India. Diseases caused by asbestos fibers are preventable but incurable. White Asbestos constitutes 100 % of the global market.

I am an applicant in the hazardous wastes/shipbreaking case in the Supreme Court where insecure environmental borders of our country is being dealt with. My application seeking decontamination of asbestos laden buildings in India is pending with the National Human Rights Commission. I am an environmental & occupational health researcher with avid interest in the matter of civil liberties. I have been an invitee to UN Committees, Parliamentary Committees, Supreme Court's Committees etc. I have worked with national, international environmental organisations and have been part of related Fact Finding Committees. I have been a research scholar at Centre for Social Medicine & Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. I am deeply concerned about the alarming increase in the rate of consumption of asbestos in our sub-continent.

In such a backdrop, Bihar Government's promotion of three white asbestos plants in Bhojpur is anti-environment, anti-people, anti-health and unscientific. Villagers of Koilwar and Bihiya region in Bhojpur are against these three lung cancer causing asbestos plants. Such plants are banned in almost thee entire developed world and World Health Organisation (WHO) has passed a resolution in 2005 seeking its elimination of its future use.

It is quite disturbing that media and political parties barring some left parties in Bihar are adopting an unscientific and anti-public health approach in dealing with incurable diseases caused by the killer fibers of asbestos.

In an age when most scientific and medical studies are available online, it does not require great effort to comprehend that there is no alternative to banning use and manufacture of asbestos products in Bihar in the same way as Kerala and Karnataka banned Endosulfan because health is a state subject. The State government did take progressive steps in the matter of not following the path of Special Economic Zone (SEZ), GM food etc being pursued by the central government. It can do the same if it is made to realize that there is no doubt about the eventual ban on asbestos fibers. It is the timing of the ban which is the issue. There is no doubt that asbestos will be banned, the question is about timing: Will the state government ban it before losing its prestige or will it do so after having lost it?

I wish to draw your attention towards the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade to be in Geneva wherein the fate of Endosulfan, Chrysotile asbestos and some other chemicals will be be decided. The objective of the Rotterdam Convention “is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm.”

In order to meet its objective, COP5 of Rotterdam Convention will consider the inclusion in Annex III of chrysotile asbestos, Endosulfan, Alachlor and Aldicarb under agenda item 5 c during the meeting scheduled for June 20-24, 2011.

It is noteworthy that the inclusion in Annex III does not equate to a prohibition of trade. It imposes requirements on exporting nations to provide basic information to consumers and customers environmental health hazards due to certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

I wish to inform you that there has been several attempts to include chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) on the prior informed consent list have failed due to the influence of asbestos producing countries who are compelled by their companies led by Quebec based Canadian companies who have succeeded in preventing any action on chrysotile asbestos being taken.

I submit that discussions on chrysotile asbestos at the COP 4 of Rotterdam Convention in 2008 took a decision to examine its listing at COP5 in June 2011.

The statement of Smt Sushma Swaraj clearly implies that white asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is a health hazard which is essentially what COP5 is to decide in Geneva. Union Ministry of Chemicals, Government of India must be urged to reverse its untenable position and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention.

I can provide documentary evidence for each of the things I am mentioning below.

1. Union Environment Ministry's 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 that reads:
"Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out". This is available on Ministry's
website. This finds resonance in Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order of 21st January, 2011.
2. In its order Hon’ble Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar observed in para 15, “the Government has already presented the Bill in Rajya Sabha. The statement of objects and reasons of this Bill specifically notices that the white asbestos is highly carcinogenic and it has been so reported by the World Health Organisation. In India, it is imported without any restriction while even its domestic use is not preferred by the exporting countries.”
Hon’ble Court further notes, “Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported 95% of the white asbestos, it mined out of which 43% was shipped to India. In view of these facts, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative materials. The Bill is yet to be passed but it is clearly demonstrated that the Government is required to take effective steps to prevent hazardous impact of use of asbestos.”
3. The WHO and ILO Resolutions have called for elimination of future use of asbestos. The relevant documents are availble on their website. The ILO Resolution is attached and WHO Factsheet on elimination of asbestos-related diseases is available here
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs343/en/index.html
4. The cancer causing nature of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) fibres has been acknowledged since 1977 by the International bodies, such as International Agency for Research on Cancer and the WHO. In these circumstances, we find that the panel remained well within the bounds in its discretion in finding that chrysotile cement products pose a risk to human life or health.
5. The Kerala State Human Rights Commission on 31st January, 2009 considered the problem created by asbestos and directed that the use of asbestos for roofing the school buildings and hospitals should be stopped and they should be replaced with country tiles. The Kerala State Human Rights Commission, while giving these directions, has considered the judgment of the Supreme Court.
6. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) too has passed an order in Case No:693/30/97-98 recommending that the asbestos sheets roofing be replaced with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful. The Annual Report of NHRC 2003-2004 refers to a Report entitled “Asbestos – Health and Environment – an in-depth Study “submitted by the Institute of Public Health Engineers, India. The study underlines that safe and controlled use of asbestos is not possible. The asbestos related disease are incurable and fatal. Human biology is same everywhere if the asbestos is deemed hazardous in the developed countries, it must be deemed so in Bhojpur, Bihar as well.
7. In such a backdrop, is it not apt for the Bihar Government to take a position on asbestos of all kinds including chrysotile asbestos and recommend its phase out to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), to begin with?
8. As Union Health Minister Smt Sushma Swaraj informed the Parliament that "long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma". How can Bihar's Health Minister, Shri Ashwini Kumar Chaubey and Bihar's Environment Minister, Shri Sushil Kumar Modi be ignorant about it? How can Dr C P Thakur, former Union Health Minister from Bihar maintain a studied silence on such a critical public health issue. Bihar Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar must verify the truth about incurable cancer causing nature of any type of asbestos from Smt Sushma Swaraj.
9. Bihar Government must recommend to the central government to support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of UN’s
Rotterdam Convention

It is high time that the Chief of Bihar is persuaded to take cognisance of problem of asbestos related diseases and took necessary steps for its prevention and appropriate remedial steps are taken, it would be deemed a very welcome public health, progressive and historic intervention by the state for which the current regime will be remembered by by the posterity.

In view of the facts mentioned above, I wish to request you to initiate appropriate and immediate to steps to stop the asbestos
plants in Bhojpur and in other places like Madubani, West Champaran, Vaishali and Muzaffarpur where it is proposed as well to protect
present and future generations from the lethal fibers of asbestos.

On behalf of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), I wish to request you to intimate your colleagues in some 22 states about the "Research (which) has found that needle-like crystals permanently penetrate the lung tissue when dust-sized particles of asbestos are inhaled. The crystals can eventually cause scarring of the lungs, called asbestosis, and can cause cancer of the lining of the lung, called mesothelioma. Both diseases are incurable and terminal."

It is a glaring fact that the members of Chrysotile Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association (CACPMA), Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association of India (ASCMA) and other industries based on killer fibers of asbestos are knowingly exposing workers, their families and consumers with impunity.

I will be happy to share more reference documents for your consideration and to recommend to central government and state
governments in general and Bihar government in particular steps to stop consumption of asbestos products.

warm regards
Gopal Krishna
Convener
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
Asbestos Mukti Andolan, Bhojpur, Bihar
Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480
E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com
Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Cc

Prof (Dr) Arthur Frank, Professor, Chair: Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US,
Dr. S.R. Kamat, former Chief, Department of Chest Medicine, K.E.M. Hospital, Mumbai.
Dr Aleck Farquhar, Managing Director, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, Canada,
Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine, Israel
Dr Yael Stein, MD, Unit of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hebrew University, Israel
Dr Lyle Hargrove, Chairperson, Occupational Clinics for Ontario Workers, Canada
Prof (Dr) Qamar Rahman, Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, India & former Deputy Director, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, India
Dr. T.K. Joshi, Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini, Italy
Dr Barry Castleman, Author, Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects
Prof. (Dr) Sanjay Chaturvedi, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India

New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including Chrysotile from India

Date: 24 March, 2011

Recalling the Ban Asbestos Resolution of 2002, WHO Resolution of 2005 and
ILO Resolution of 2006 seeking elimination of future use of asbestos of all
forms, in the face of massive asbestos exposure underway in India;

Taking note of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009
introduced in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament) and the order
of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission banning the use of asbestos in
schools;

Considering the anti asbestos movement against 12 proposed asbestos plants
in Bihar in face of massive people’s resistance;

Outraged at the Union of India’s Budget 2011-12’s callous reference to
asbestos by including it under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to cover
‘unorganized sector workers in hazardous mining and associated industries
like asbestos etc’ and on the other hand Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister’s
Budget is allocating land for 4 new asbestos plants;

Recognising the fact that enviro-occupational health infrastructure in India
is weak or non-existent in the face of workers and consumers who are sick
and dying from asbestos-caused cancer and other related diseases;

Endorsing The STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS of The White Asbestos (Ban on
Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in the Indian Parliament that reads:
“The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health
Organisation has reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous
material that is used to make rooftops (roofing material) and break (brake)
linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of
white asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use
it domestically. But in our country, 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. It is quite
surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product,
which causes cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap
alternatives to asbestos are available in the country. Instead of importing
a hazardous material, it will be better if we spend some money in research
and development and use environment friendly product. In view of the above,
there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white
asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.”

Appreciating Supreme Court of India’s order of 21st January, 2011 that takes
cognizance of the above mentioned Bill and the resolutions of ILO and WHO
and seeks government to take immediate preventive steps;

Taking cognizance of the human rights violation involved in exposing people
to killer asbestos fibers and how even if few asbestos fibre reach the right
places, it causes irreversible damage leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or
mesothelioma;

Considering Government of India’s role in preventing the listing of
chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention,
an International Agreement that requires that importing countries be warned
of the risks associated with hazardous products is unbecoming of a nation of
India’s stature. It is unconscionable that the government knowingly allows
trades in a killer product that will cause death of hundreds of thousands of
people in India in general and in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Bihar
and Rajasthan in particular and elsewhere in the world;

Reminding the Government of India that there is incontrovertible evidence
that creates a compelling logic for making India asbestos free;

Condemning the asbestos exporting countries liaison with the Indian asbestos
industry to which Government is turning a blind eye who have unleashed a
misinformation campaign about controlled use of asbestos products which is a
fantasy;

Disapproving Ministry of Environment & Forests Experts Appraisal Committee
on Industry for approving environmental clearance of asbestos plants;

Asserting the fact that so far some 55 countries have banned all forms of
asbestos, and are already using alternative materials;

Underlining that almost every international health agency of repute
including the World Health Organization, the International Labor
Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health, and the American Cancer Society agree there is no safe level of
asbestos exposure. Most recently, the International Agency for Research on
Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed that all commercial asbestos fibers - including
chrysotile, the most commercially used form of asbestos - cause lung cancer
and mesothelioma. In addition, IARC newly confirmed that there is sufficient
evidence that asbestos causes ovarian cancer and reconfirmed asbestos causes
laryngeal cancer;

We urge the Government to adequately compensate the victims of
asbestos-related diseases, create a database of asbestos exposed people and
victims as well besides providing legal and possible medical relief and
taking preventive measures. We call on the government to create a
mesothelioma registry and a building registry of those facilities which have
asbestos. We seek inclusion of environmental and occupational health study
in the medical education of all the 300 medical colleges in India

We recommend that the Government should start efforts to decontaminate
asbestos laden buildings including schools and hospitals

We express shock at the instance countries like Canada using tax-payers
money and Canadian embassies to actively promote the sale of asbestos around
the world;

We appeal to the Government of India to put a ban on export, import,
manufacturing, use and mining of all forms of asbestos including chrysotile
(white asbestos) in India.

We call upon the Government of India, State Governments in general and Bihar
Government in Particular besides Indian Ministry of Health, Ministry of
Environment, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Consumer
Affairs and Ministry of Mines to initiate steps for an immediate ban on use,
manufacture and trade of all forms of asbestos (including Chrysotile or
White Asbestos).

Endorsed by:

Prof (Dr) Arthur Frank, Professor, Chair: Department of Environmental and
Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US, Email-
alf13@drexel.edu
Dr Aleck Farquhar, Managing Director, Occupational Health Clinics for
Ontario Workers, Canada, E-mail- afarquhar@ohcow.on.ca

Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of
Medicine, Israel, E-mail-elihudrichter@gmail.com
Dr Yael Stein, MD, Unit of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hebrew
University, Israel, E-mail- stein444@gmail.com

Dr Lyle Hargrove, Chairperson, Occupational Clinics for Ontario Workers,
Canada, E-mail- lyle.hargrove@gmail.com
Prof (Dr) Qamar Rahman, Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, India & former
Deputy Director, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow E-mail-
qamar_15@sify.com
Dr. T.K. Joshi, Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini, Italy, E-mail-kantjoshi@gmail.com

Monday, May 23, 2011

Italian Researcher Writes to Bihar CM Against Bhojpur's Asbestos Plants

Asbestos Mukti Andolan, Bihar
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), New Delhi

E-mail: banasbestosbhojpur@gmail.com, krishna1764@gmail.com
Web: http://banasbestosbhojpur.blogspot.com, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com
Web Group: http://groups.google.com/group/banasbestosbihar?hl=en
Mb: 09818089660, 7739308480

Press Note

Italian Researcher Writes to Bihar CM Against Bhojpur's Asbestos Plants

Sushma Swaraj said, "long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma"

How can Bihar's Health Minister, Ashwini Kumar Chaubey and Bihar's Environment Minister, Shri Sushil Kumar Modi be ignorant about it?

Nitish Kumar must verify the truth about incurable cancer causing nature of any type of asbestos from Sushma Swaraj, former Union Health Minister or Maneka Gandhi, former Union Environment Minister


Patna/New Delhi: Bihar Government's promotion of three white asbestos plants in Bhojpur is anti-environment, anti-people, anti-health and unscientific. Villagers of Koilwar and Bihiya region in Bhojpur are against these three lung cancer causing asbestos plants. Such plants are banned in over 55 countries and World Health Organisation (WHO) has passed a resolution in 2005 seeking its elimination of its future use. WHO document is attached.

Given below is a declaration signed by seven eminent scientists and jurists of the world with their emails seeking elimination of all kinds of asbestos including white asbestos that is being used in Bhojpur.

Alarmed by trend of proposals for new asbestos plants in Bhojpur, Federico Demaria, a Italian researcher based in University of Barcelona, Spain who visited the district recently wrote a letter to the Chief Minister with copies marked to the Deputy Chief Minister, Union Environment Minister and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). The letter is attached.

It is quite disturbing that media in Bihar is adopting an unscientific and anti-public health approach in dealing with incurable diseases caused by the killer fibers of asbestos. A joint letter sent to Chief Minister, Bihar is attached. He was in Bhojpur on 11th May, 2011. Pictures of asbestos plants in Bhojpur attached.

In an age when most scientific and medical studies are available online, it does not require great effort to comprehend that there is no alternative to banning use and manufacture of asbestos products in Bihar in the same way as Kerala and Karnataka banned Endosulfan because health is a state subject. The State government did take progressive steps in the matter of not following the path of Special Economic Zone (SEZ), GM food etc being pursued by the central government. It can do the same if it is made to realize that there is no doubt about the eventual ban on asbestos fibers. It is the timing of the ban which is the issue. Will the state government ban it before losing its prestige or will it do so after having lost it?

If newspapers and news channels appear to be newsletters of the State Government and exercise self-censorship even when manifestly hazardous asbestos plants are being set up, it would lose the right to claim that it works in public interest. One is wondering whether or not media in Bihar has become obedient to the whims and fancies of the state government.

If the current trend continues we will be compelled to move to the Press Council of India and to all the other committees which has been formed to deal with the problem of Paid News to complain against such a malaise. It would be difficult to prove with simple content analysis as to how some newspapers and some news channels in particular have censored news against incurable lung cancer causing asbestos plants in Bhojpur. All the practitioners of media in general and trained journalists in particular know that one of the ways to kill news is to localise it and keep it confined to one page that gets inserted in that area. This phenomena is quite visible and merits considered attention.

Has any of the newspapers and news channels in Bihar bothered to check Union Environment Ministry's 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 that reads: "Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out"?. This is available on Ministry's website. The vision statement is attached.

In such a backdrop, is it not apt for the Bihar Government to take a position on asbestos of all kinds including chrysotile and recommend its phase out to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), to begin with?

Several petitions (Parivaad Sankhya-454/3-2/2011, 948/17/3/2011) have been submitted the District Magistrate but there has been no response. Letters have also been submitted to Chief Minister, Bihar, Managing Director, BIADA, Principal Secretary, Environment, Bihar, Principal Secretary, Industry, Bihar and Principal Secretary, Health in March 2011 but so far there has been no action.
The villagers are demanding that Bhojpur plants be stopped in the same way as Muzaffarpur based plant has been stopped.
Human biology is same everywhere, how can same thing be deemed poisonous in one district and non-poisonous in another district.

It must be noted that the "Research has found that needle-like crystals permanently penetrate the lung tissue when dust-sized particles of asbestos are inhaled. The crystals can eventually cause scarring of the lungs, called asbestosis, and can cause cancer of the lining of the lung, called mesothelioma. Both diseases are incurable and terminal."

In Bhojpur's Bihiya, there is a proposal to set up a 120,000 MT/Annum capacity of Asbestos Cement Sheet Plant and 2 00000 MT/Annum capacity of Asbestos Grinding Plant. The total project area is 20 acres and land is allotted by the state government on lease for 90 years.

On 10th May, 2010, the project was discussed by the Experts Appraisal Committee (EAC), Industry. In the minutes of the EAC, there explicit reference to "Health Management Plan for Mesothalimoa, Lung cancer and Asbestosis related problems in asbestos industries". The plant being established by Tamil Nadu based Ramco Industries Ltd. Bihar'S State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB) cleared its establishment on 23rd November, 2009 with a total investment of Rs 60.20 crore.

In Bhojpur's Giddha village, Tamil Nadu based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd is establishing the 100000 MT Capacity Asbestos Fiber Cement Corrugated Sheet, Flat Sheet and Accessories and Light Weight Fly Ash Block Plant. This has been approved in SIPB meeting on 19th October, 2009 with a total investment for of Rs 31 crore.

In an order dated January 21, 2011, Hon’ble Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar has observed in para 15, “the Government has already presented the Bill in Rajya Sabha. The statement of objects and reasons of this Bill specifically notices that the white asbestos is highly carcinogenic and it has been so reported by the World Health Organisation. In India, it is imported without any restriction while even its domestic use is not preferred by the exporting countries.” It is noteworthy that once a Bill is introduced in Rajya Sabha, it never lapses.
The Bench of Chief Justice of India notes, “Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported 95% of the white asbestos, it mined out of which 43% was shipped to India. In view of these facts, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative materials. The Bill is yet to be passed but it is clearly demonstrated that the Government is required to take effective steps to prevent hazardous impact of use of asbestos.”
In such a backdrop, in short, the Chief Minister ought to take steps to initiate the phase out of asbestos products and proposed factories that manufacture it.

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports of the proposed asbestos plants reveals that they will procure asbestos from Canada, a country that does not itself use it. Not only that it has decontaminated its legislative building of asbestos materials.

It seems that the asbestos plants in are coming up because of an incestous relationship between one ruling party in Bihar and some newspaper and news channels.

Asbestos Mukti Andolan, Bhojpur, Bihar and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) will attempt to expose this relationship but before undertaking such an effort it occurred to me that your creative intervention can set matters right .

The letter to Smt Sushma Swaraj with copies to Shri L K Advani and Shri Arun Jaitley and the concerned central ministers.
is given below.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), New Delhi, Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480
E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com, krishna1764@rediffmail.com, Blog:banasbestosbhojpur, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Gopal Krishna
Date: Thu, May 12, 2011 at 2:30 PM
Subject: Indian Position in Rotterdam Convention on Chrysotile (White Asbestos) & Bihar's Plants
To: sushmaswaraj@hotmail.com
Cc: advanilk@sansad.nic.in, murli@sansad.nic.in, cmbihar-bih@nic.in, dycmbihar@yahoo.com, ajaitley@sansad.nic.in, ajaitley@del5.vsnl.net.in, cp.thakur@sansad.nic.in, cpthakur1@rediffmail.com, thakurcp@gmail.com, jairam54@gmail.com, anandsharma@sansad.nic.in, pkm@sansad.nic.in, azadg@sansad.nic.in

To
Shrimati Sushma Swaraj
Leader of the Opposition
Lok Sabha
Parliament of India
Subject-Indian Position in Rotterdam Convention on Chrysotile (White Asbestos) & Bihar's Plants
Madam,

I wish to express great appreciation for your position against Endosulfan and for urging the Government of India to join the international consensus against it in the UN's Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants during a recent meeting in Geneva, Switzerland as required by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). World over, your position has been deemed quite progressive.

It made me recollect your exemplary performance as a Union Health Minister and your considered opinion against asbestos including Chrysotile (White Asbestos). Kerala State Human Rights Commission has recommended ban on use of asbestos roofs for schools and hospitals and NHRC has termed exposing human beings to asbestos fibers as human rights violation.

I wish to draw your attention towards the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade to be in Geneva wherein the fate of Endosulfan, Chrysotile asbestos and some other chemicals will be be decided. The objective of the Rotterdam Convention “is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm.”

In order to meet its objective, COP5 of Rotterdam Convention will consider the inclusion in Annex III of chrysotile asbestos, Endosulfan, Alachlor and Aldicarb under agenda item 5 c during the meeting scheduled for June 20-24, 2011.
It is noteworthy that the inclusion in Annex III does not equate to a prohibition of trade. It imposes requirements on exporting nations to provide basic information to consumers and customers environmental health hazards due to certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

I wish to inform you that there has been several attempts to include chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) on the prior informed consent list have failed due to the influence of asbestos producing countries who are compelled by their companies led by Quebec based Canadian companies who have succeeded in preventing any action on chrysotile asbestos being taken.
I submit that discussions on chrysotile asbestos at the COP 4 of Rotterdam Convention in 2008 took a decision to examine its listing at COP5 in June 2011.

In a statement as Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ministry, you had informed the Rajya Sabha saying: "Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the
development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma'' on August 18, 2003.

This clearly implies that white asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is a health hazard which is essentially what COP5 is to decide in Geneva. As you are aware White asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is used mainly for water pipes or as roofing sheets in construction industry. Asbestos dust can be inhaled while drilling, cutting a pipe, repairing, renovating or demolishing a building and its effects are far-reaching, affecting everyone from the person mining it to the ultimate consumer. Clinical reports show that asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer can show up even 25 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

I submit that like elsewhere, in our country too, all cases of mesothelioma, an aggressive asbestos-related cancer are linked to asbestos exposure. All the medical colleges in India must teach that most cases of mesothelioma are related to enviro-occupational asbestos exposure that often occurred decades earlier in industries heavily dependent on asbestos-based products. These industries include construction, automobile repair and shipbuilding.

It is a glaring fact that the members of Chrysotile Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association (CACPMA), Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association of India (ASCMA) and other industries based on killer fibers of asbestos are knowingly exposing workers, their families and consumers.

While the medical and financial relief (compensation) for the illness of workers, their families and consumers must be borne by the companies in question, in India because of political patronage members of both CACPMA, ASCMA and others have escaped liability and have not been made accountable.

I submit that Ministry of Health and Ministry of Law should work in tandem to provide assistance to make asbestos victims and their families so that they or their children or parents can decide to pursue legal action against the companies responsible for making them incurably sick.

I submit that Ministry of Defence must also be alerted by both Ministry of Health and Ministry of Law against those industrial workers who served in the military to help, build and defend the country, and now they are now at risk of developing asbestos related diseases like mesothelioma.

I submit that there are many factors that influence a person’s life expectancy. Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed in the late stages because it displays no serious symptoms before then. When diagnosed in the late stages, the average life expectancy is 8 months.
I submit that there is currently no cure for the cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The Union Ministry of Health, Justice and Defence besides the State governments must identify and assist those who suffer from mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases because they have the right to pursue financial compensation. Both the state and central government agencies must provide free legal consultation to present and potential victims and their families.

In wish to submit that in the way Kerala government took the lead in banning Endosulfan followed by Karnataka, Bihar government can launch a Asbestos Free Movement by stopping some 12 asbestos plants that proposed. I have visited most of the sites there is a public opinion against these hazardous plants.

I have visited BJP party office both in Patna and New Delhi and was happy to note that party office bearers were quite aware of the hazards of expsoure from asbestos fibers especially because the party offices are also laden with asbestos roofing material. They informed me that it is for the party leadership to decide on the fate of such hazardous building materials. May I suggest that to begin with in as an illustration for other political parties, BJP as a party ought to consider making its headquarters and state offices asbestos free. These efforts can commence with your specific instruction especially from Bihar given the fact that the State Party Chief is also a former Union Health Minister and a renowned doctor.

I seek your urgent intervention to stop the three asbestos plants in Bhojpur district in Bihar. These three asbestos plants are proposed by Tamil Nadu based companies Ramco Industries and Nibhi Industries. The former is setting up two plants and the latter is
setting up one plant. Besides giving several representations, letters and personal interactions with the officials and ministers there isn't any progress to stop it.

I wish to inform that on 11th May, 2011, Shri Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar was in Bhojpur. At least two separate petitions against these asbestos plants in one district of Bhojpur have been given to him.

If these three asbestos plants are stopped, Bihar would become the first state in India to ban asbestos plant. The Bihar
Chief Minister appears to be quite conscious of the hazardous nature of the asbestos industry and want national ban on it. It would be set an exemplary precedent if the state takes the lead as it has done in several cases such as SEZ, reservation for women in Panchayats, GM Maize. There are news reports in Hindi newspapers even today in Bhojpur, Bihar seeking closure of these asbestos plants.

I submit that the asbestos plant in Muzaffarpur district has been stopped temporarily after police firing and lathi charge against the
protestors. We are demanding permanent stay. We marched on the streets of Patna, the state capital and as part of a delegation I gave submission for the Chief Minister, Bihar. Following which an inquiry is underway by Secretary, Industry Dept, Government of Bihar. It would be relevant that the scope of the inquiry is expanded to include the three asbestos plants of Bhojpur and to summon expert testimonies from WHO, ILO and those 55 countries that have banned asbestos including white asbestos.

I do comprehend that it is for the Union Commerce Ministry and Finance ministry to take a decision on ban this killer fiber at the central level but health being a state subject, the State Government does have the right to ban asbestos plants and products, the way Kerala and Karnataka has done in the case of Endosulfan .

I wish to inform you that a bitter struggle against proposed asbestos plants is underway in Bhojpur district, Bihar.
In such a backdrop, I submit that in an order dated January 21, 201, Hon’ble Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar has observed in para 15, “the Government has already presented the Bill in Rajya Sabha. The statement of objects and reasons of this Bill specifically notices that the white asbestos is highly carcinogenic and it has been so reported by the World Health Organisation. In India, it is imported without
any restriction while even its domestic use is not preferred by the exporting countries.”

The Bench of Chief Justice of India notes, “Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported 95% of the white asbestos, it mined out of which 43% was shipped to India. In view of these facts, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative materials. The Bill is yet to be passed but it is clearly demonstrated that the Government is required to take effective steps to prevent hazardous impact of use of asbestos.”

I wish to inform you that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new factsheet on asbestos:http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs343/en/index.html It re-iterates that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos and specifically states that its strategy is particularly targeted at countries still using chrysotile asbestos. The factsheet notes that “more than 107 000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposure.”

I submit that the work of WHO and International Labour Organization (ILO) must be taken cognisance of by Bihar Government and Central Government in its efforts towards elimination of asbestos-related diseases “by recognizing that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos and by providing information about solutions for
replacing asbestos with safer substitutes and developing economic and technological mechanisms to stimulate its replacement.”

I wish to draw your attention towards the New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of cancer causing all forms of asbestos including Chrysotile from India which was adopted and endorsed by eminent scientists and doctors on 24th March, 2011. This happened at a Round Table which was organized immediately after the conclusion of International Conference on "Emerging Trends in Preventing Occupational Respiratory Diseases and Cancers in Workplace" at Maulana Azad Medical College that expressed grave concern about asbestos related diseases like lung cancer in the national capital.

The Declaration is given below for your perusal and immediate consideration.

The delegates at the Round Table discussed the asbestos policy of Bihar. These delegates shared their views and gave their valuable hand written notes so that it can be used in a credible way while strongly recommending the need for immediate ban on asbestos to Government of India, State Governments and the relevant ministries.

I wish to submit that during a visit to New Delhi in March 2011, Dr Alec Farquhar, Managing Director, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, Canada said, “We now have around 500 asbestos cancer cases every year in Ontario from a population of 13 million. If you (India) continue on your current path, you will multiply our death count by 100 times. That would be 50, 000 Indian workers dying every year from asbestos. In Ontario, we learned that safe use of asbestos is impossible. I urge you from the bottom of my heart, please do not make the same mistake as we made in Canada. Stop using asbestos and use a safe alternative.”

I submit that Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine, Israel said, “All form of asbestos kill. India should bury asbestos, not people. Here is a case for examining whether those countries which export asbestos to India are committing a crime against humanity, because they are engaging in willful neglect. India should not repeat the mistakes of going back some 70 years which will kill tens of thousands of workers and their families.” Prof. Richter too was in New Delhi in March 2011.

It must be noted that “No matter what mis-information comes of Canada or the Indian asbestos industry about Chrysotile, there is no question that science has shown that Chrysotile causes asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. This is the conclusion of World Health Organisation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, and other organizations that have no biases except for protecting people’s health,” said Prof. Arthur L Frank, MD, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US. He has 40 years of experience in dealing with asbestos diseases and he was in India to make a presentation at an International Conference on Occupational Health.

I submit that Collegium Ramazzini, a Italy based independent, international academy founded in 1982 by Irving J. Selikoff, Cesare Maltoni and other eminent scientists has called for the elimination asbestos of all kinds.

Presenting her views, Prof (Dr) Qamar Rahman, fellow of National Academy of Sciences, Dean, Integral University, Lucknow & former Deputy Director, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow asserted, “This is high time that Government of India should ban the use of asbestos in India. It has been proven scientifically that asbestos based articles such as roof ceilings, storage tanks will release fibers. The asbestos fibers will be the cause of exposure to our coming generations.” This merits your immediate attention.
It may noted that the conference was organised by Centre for Occupational Health, New Delhi supported by Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, ESI, DGMS and DGFASL in collaboration with Drexel University, US at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi from 22-24 March, 2011.

The conference was deeply concerned about asbestos related diseases and the alarming rise of asbestos in India.
In such a backdrop, in short, I request you to recommend steps on the following points:

· Urge Government of India to Support Listing of Chrysotile (White Asbestos) in the PIC List of Rotterdam Convention and do not grant environmental clearance to the proposed asbestos sheet plants
· Deny Consent to Establish to this hazardous asbestos factory units
· Create a Registry of Incurable Lung Cancers and Mesothelioma besides a registry of asbestos related diseases
· Start efforts to decontaminate asbestos laden buildings including schools and hospitals
· Create a building registry of those buildings and products which have asbestos.
· Include environmental and occupational health study in the medical education of all the medical colleges in the states and in the whole country
· Stop procurement of cancer causing asbestos based products in Bihar in particular and in the whole country in general
· Adequately compensate the victims of asbestos-related diseases, create a database of asbestos exposed people and victims as well besides providing legal and possible medical relief and taking preventive measures
I would be quite happy to share more details about the asbestos related incurable diseases.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Convener
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
Asbestos Mukti Andolan, Bihar
New Delhi
Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480
E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com
Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Cc
Shri Lal Krishna Advani, Chairman, BJP Parliamentary Board
Dr Murali Manohar Joshi, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, Parliament of India
Shri Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, Government of Bihar
Shri Arun Jaitli, Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha, Parliament of India
Dr C P Thakur, Member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals & Fertilizers
and Member, Parliamentary Consultative Committee for Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Shri Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Bihar
Shri Jairam Ramesh, Union Environment & Forests Minister
Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Health Minister
Shri Anand Sharma, Union Commerce Minister
Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Union Finance Minister

New Delhi Declaration
Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including Chrysotile from India
Date: 24 March, 2011

Recalling the Ban Asbestos Resolution of 2002, WHO Resolution of 2005 and
ILO Resolution of 2006 seeking elimination of future use of asbestos of all
forms, in the face of massive asbestos exposure underway in India;
Taking note of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009
introduced in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament) and the order
of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission banning the use of asbestos in
schools;

Considering the anti asbestos movement against 12 proposed asbestos plants
in Bihar in face of massive people’s resistance;

Outraged at the Union of India’s Budget 2011-12’s callous reference to
asbestos by including it under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to cover
‘unorganized sector workers in hazardous mining and associated industries
like asbestos etc’ and on the other hand Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister’s
Budget is allocating land for 4 new asbestos plants;

Recognising the fact that enviro-occupational health infrastructure in India
is weak or non-existent in the face of workers and consumers who are sick
and dying from asbestos-caused cancer and other related diseases;

Endorsing The STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS of The White Asbestos (Ban on
Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in the Indian Parliament that reads:
“The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health
Organisation has reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous
material that is used to make rooftops (roofing material) and break (brake)
linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of
white asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use
it domestically. But in our country, 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. It is quite
surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product,
which causes cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap
alternatives to asbestos are available in the country. Instead of importing
a hazardous material, it will be better if we spend some money in research
and development and use environment friendly product. In view of the above,
there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white
asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.”

Appreciating Supreme Court of India’s order of 21st January, 2011 that takes
cognizance of the above mentioned Bill and the resolutions of ILO and WHO
and seeks government to take immediate preventive steps;

Taking cognizance of the human rights violation involved in exposing people
to killer asbestos fibers and how even if few asbestos fibre reach the right
places, it causes irreversible damage leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or
mesothelioma;

Considering Government of India’s role in preventing the listing of
chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous product under the Rotterdam Convention,
an International Agreement that requires that importing countries be warned
of the risks associated with hazardous products is unbecoming of a nation of
India’s stature. It is unconscionable that the government knowingly allows
trades in a killer product that will cause death of hundreds of thousands of
people in India in general and in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Bihar
and Rajasthan in particular and elsewhere in the world;

Reminding the Government of India that there is incontrovertible evidence
that creates a compelling logic for making India asbestos free;
Condemning the asbestos exporting countries liaison with the Indian asbestos
industry to which Government is turning a blind eye who have unleashed a
misinformation campaign about controlled use of asbestos products which is a
fantasy;

Disapproving Ministry of Environment & Forests Experts Appraisal Committee
on Industry for approving environmental clearance of asbestos plants;
Asserting the fact that so far some 55 countries have banned all forms of
asbestos, and are already using alternative materials;

Underlining that almost every international health agency of repute
including the World Health Organization, the International Labor
Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health, and the American Cancer Society agree there is no safe level of
asbestos exposure. Most recently, the International Agency for Research on
Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed that all commercial asbestos fibers - including
chrysotile, the most commercially used form of asbestos - cause lung cancer
and mesothelioma. In addition, IARC newly confirmed that there is sufficient
evidence that asbestos causes ovarian cancer and reconfirmed asbestos causes
laryngeal cancer;

We urge the Government to adequately compensate the victims of
asbestos-related diseases, create a database of asbestos exposed people and
victims as well besides providing legal and possible medical relief and
taking preventive measures. We call on the government to create a
mesothelioma registry and a building registry of those facilities which have
asbestos. We seek inclusion of environmental and occupational health study
in the medical education of all the 300 medical colleges in India

We recommend that the Government should start efforts to decontaminate
asbestos laden buildings including schools and hospitals

We express shock at the instance countries like Canada using tax-payers
money and Canadian embassies to actively promote the sale of asbestos around
the world;

We appeal to the Government of India to put a ban on export, import,
manufacturing, use and mining of all forms of asbestos including chrysotile
(white asbestos) in India.

We call upon the Government of India, State Governments in general and Bihar
Government in Particular besides Indian Ministry of Health, Ministry of
Environment, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Consumer
Affairs and Ministry of Mines to initiate steps for an immediate ban on use,
manufacture and trade of all forms of asbestos (including Chrysotile or
White Asbestos).

Endorsed by:
Prof (Dr) Arthur Frank, Professor, Chair: Department of Environmental and
Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US, Email-
alf13@drexel.edu
Dr Aleck Farquhar, Managing Director, Occupational Health Clinics for
Ontario Workers, Canada, E-mail- afarquhar@ohcow.on.ca
Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of
Medicine, Israel, E-mail-elihudrichter@gmail.com
Dr Yael Stein, MD, Unit of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hebrew
University, Israel, E-mail- stein444@gmail.com
Dr Lyle Hargrove, Chairperson, Occupational Clinics for Ontario Workers,
Canada, E-mail- lyle.hargrove@gmail.com
Prof (Dr) Qamar Rahman, Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, India & former
Deputy Director, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow E-mail-
qamar_15@sify.com
Dr. T.K. Joshi, Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini, Italy, E-mail-kantjoshi@gmail.com

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Asbestos Mukti Andolan Opposes Coulombe's Visit to India for Investments in Killer Mines

Note: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and Asbestos Mukti Andolan (ABA), Bhojpur, Bihar expresses its opposition to the visit of Bernard Coulombe, executive director, Jeffrey Mine Inc. to India. BANI will take steps to ensure that Indian workers and consumers know the health impact of his visit to India this month to meet with “potential investors” in the killer asbestos mines.

Gopal Krishna
BANI & ABA
==
Asbestos episode a lesson in PR don'ts, expert says

A Quebec asbestos-mining industry executive's experience with a popular satirical television news program is like a "how-not-to" lesson in public relations, says a crisis communications expert.

According to the author of When the Headline is You, the problems began from the moment Jeffrey Mine executive director Bernard Coulombe agreed to appear on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

"He made a bad decision," Jeff Ansell told CTV's Canada AM, suggesting that Coulombe should have done his homework first.

"There was absolutely zero gain in him appearing on the program," he said. "I mean, if it's W5 calling, you've got to prepare and step up to the plate, but it was not a wise move to do that interview."

In the segment broadcast on May 5, The Daily Show's Mumbai-born reporter Aasif Mandvi ridicules both Coulombe and the industry as he heaps scorn on the practice of mining asbestos in Quebec and exporting the controversial mineral to India for processing.

At one point, he even referred to Coulombe as a "douchebag."

In response, Coulombe issued a press release blasting the "tacky parody" as a mean-spirited attempt to discredit his industry and make the people of Asbestos, Que. who make their living in it "look like ignorant imbeciles."

The type of asbestos his company is extracting is chrysotile, he said, and not the potentially more hazardous amphibole variety.

But Ansell says rather than damage-control, Coulombe's missive "took oil and poured it on the fire," essentially thrusting a waning story back into the headlines of newspapers across the country and around the world.

"He's darn lucky the headline in The Globe and Mail wasn't 'We're Not Ignorant Imbeciles, Claims Poulombe'," Ansell said, suggesting the nuance of the mining executive's explanation was lost and instead served only to rejuvenate a story that might otherwise have flown under the radar.

As it stands, Coulombe now says he's going to have trouble raising the $25 million in private-sector financing he needs to keep the mine going.

In Ansell's view, even though Coulombe felt besmirched by the satirical report, rather than relay his feelings to the whole world he should have reached out to investors privately.

"See if they bring it up, and if they bring it up then he has an explanation: 'Well, you know, clearly I should have done some homework beforehand. I mistakenly presumed this was a credible reporter doing a credible story'," Ansell said.

Prized for its fire-retardant and insulating properties, the fibrous mineral was once used in everything from clothing to coffee pots.

It's now banned in many countries around the world, including all European Union member states, Australia, Chile and Japan. Although there have been widespread efforts to remove it from Canadians schools, homes, hospitals and even the Parliament buildings in the last 20 years, Ottawa has refused to institute a ban.

Instead, this country has risen to become the biggest western supporter of asbestos trade.

Quebec, which is home to the last remaining asbestos mines in Canada, exports 95 per cent of its annual yield to countries such as India and Pakistan.

According to the World Health Organization, some 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at work each year. More than 100,000 die annually from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and respiratory diseases.

Kieron Lang, CTV News
May. 22 2011
http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110520/daily-show-asbestos-segment-pr-lessons-110522/20110522/?hub=MontrealHome

Bhojpur, Bihar & One Sided Story on Asbestos

Bihar Industry Association (BIA) members say that there are 54 asbestos plants which are functional in different parts of India. “Out of this, three are already in Bihar — Bihia, Giddha (Ara) and Mahua (Hajipur),” said a senior BIA member. “Besides, the one in question (near Muzaffapur) and two plants near Bettiah are in the pipe-line,” he said and added, “Still India continues to import huge quantity of asbestos from 28 foreign countries.”

Bihar industry circle is treating the controversy over asbestos plant as a test case for Nitish. Traders argue that an NGO — BANI (Ban Asbestos Network of India) too has jumped into the demonstration fray despite the ruling of apex court headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia on January 21. Questioning the incoherent theories over the issue, he said, “If a rule is applicable throughout India, then it’s also applicable in Bihar.” For the complete story check:
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/136886/asbestos-red-card-green-concern.html

The story above storyprovides only the version of the asbestos industry.

BANI's version is given below:

As to the order dated January 21, 2011, Hon’ble Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar, it must be noted that it reads: “Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported 95% of the white asbestos, it mined out of which 43% was shipped to India. In view of these facts, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative materials.”

Union Environment Ministry’s 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 which reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”. This is available on Ministry’s website. The Supreme Court's order simply reiterates what is stated in Union Environment Ministry’s Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health which reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”.

The order of Kerala Human Rights Commission (KHRC) recommending ban on use of asbestos roofs for schools and hospitals and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) terming exposing human beings to asbestos fibers as human rights violation merits serious attention. The KHRC and its chairperson Justice N Dhinakar has ruled that exposing Indians to asbestos is a human rights violation. This paves the way for the eventual complete ban on asbestos and its products.

On January 31, 2009, KHRC ruled that the government should take steps to phase out asbestos roofing from all schools in the state. The commission has directed the state government to replace the asbestos roofs of those school buildings under the government control with country tiles in a phased manner. The government has been directed to initiate measures to ensure that asbestos roofs are replaced with country tiles within a fixed time-frame in the case of schools that are run under the private managements. The state government has been directed to make sure that no new school begins functioning with asbestos roofing in the future. The petition submitted to the commission complained that roofing school buildings with asbestos were hazardous to the health of children.

Hon’ble Supreme Court's order dated 24th October, 2008 wherein prohibition on import of Asbestos into India as it is a major health hazard was sought. According to the petitioner, huge quantity of Asbestos is being imported from other countries causing health problems. The Hon’ble Court asked the matter to be pursued with the Government/appropriate authority. BANI is working in pursuance of the same.

India media must pay attention to the upcoming the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN’s Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade to be held in Geneva wherein the fate of Chrysotile asbestos and some other chemicals will be be decided. The objective of the Rotterdam Convention “is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm.”

In order to meet its objective, COP5 of Rotterdam Convention will consider the inclusion in Annex III of chrysotile asbestos and other chemicals under agenda item 5 c during the meeting scheduled for June 20-24, 2011.

It is noteworthy that the inclusion in Annex III does not equate to a prohibition of trade. It imposes requirements on exporting nations to provide basic information to consumers and customers environmental health hazards due to certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

Several attempts to include chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) on the prior informed consent list have failed due to the influence of asbestos producing countries who are compelled by their companies led by Quebec based Canadian companies who have succeeded in preventing any action on chrysotile asbestos being taken.

Discussions on chrysotile asbestos at the COP 4 of Rotterdam Convention in 2008 took a decision to examine its listing at COP5 in June 2011.

In a statement Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare had informed the Rajya Sabha saying: “Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma” on August 18, 2003.

This clearly implies that white asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is a health hazard which is essentially what COP5 is to decide in Geneva. As you are aware White asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is used mainly for water pipes or as roofing sheets in construction industry. Asbestos dust can be inhaled while drilling, cutting a pipe, repairing, renovating or demolishing a building and its effects are far-reaching, affecting everyone from the person mining it to the ultimate consumer. Clinical reports show that asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer can show up even 25 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

In our country too, all cases of mesothelioma, an aggressive asbestos-related cancer are linked to asbestos exposure. All the medical colleges in India must teach that most cases of mesothelioma are related to enviro-occupational asbestos exposure that often occurred decades earlier in industries heavily dependent on asbestos-based products. These industries include construction, automobile repair and shipbuilding.

It is a glaring fact that the members of Chrysotile Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association (CACPMA), Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association of India (ASCMA) and other industries based on killer fibers of asbestos are knowingly exposing workers, their families and consumers.

While the medical and financial relief (compensation) for the illness of workers, their families and consumers must be borne by the companies in question, in India because of political patronage members of both CACPMA, ASCMA and others have escaped liability and have not been made accountable.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Production of Toxic Asbestos Products In Bhojpur, Bihar

Asbestos causes Cancer.There is no doubt about it. Wikipedia confirms the connection between Cancer and Asbestos. Knowing full well the huge environmental and human health impact of Asbestos, most governments in the developed world have banned the use of Asbestos in almost all sectors of the industry.

However, in India, the government seems to be taking a completely opposite view to the production and processing of this dangerous material. The Bihar government has approved the production of asbestos in Bhojpur, Champaran and Vaishali as per the news article here http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Bihars-Singuhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifr-Stir-over-asbestos-plant/articleshow/7449243.cms.

Asbestos is not only dangerous to the workers working there, it is also dangerous to users who use the material in building work. So if there is asbestos in the building that you live in, then there is huge probability of you getting cancer from it.

Asbestos is banned in buildings in the US since the 1970s. Is is not high time that Asbestos gets banned in India too? How many people must be affected by cancer before the government bans it permanently?

If you are in India, please contact your local MP or MLA to demand that asbestos mining be stopped and the use of asbestos in building materials be permanently banned.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Ramakantyadav

Why putting up an asbestos plant in Bihar is a terrible idea!

Editor’s note: being a laggard in development has obvious disadvantages. But even as an economy like Bihar’s tries to find its feet, one finds that the investment and business offers that come along may be the worst possible, and indeed ones which have been driven out of the relatively developed economies. India has been made numerous offers inherently dangerous for its populace and environment – for example providing dumping space for highly toxic wastes from developed countries for a handsome fee and profit. Are we so desperate that we are ready to get killed in order to find decent lives?

We are publishing below an extract from a letter by the Ban asbestos Network of India to the deputy CM of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi. The context for this is the continued struggle of villagers of Bishnupur-Chainpur, Muzaffarpur who have been agitating for ban against the Kolkata-headquartered Balmukund Cement & Roofing Ltd. (BCRL) proposed asbestos cement roofing sheet factory in the Marwan block. the extract from the letter explains in some details the hazards of asbestos.

To

Shri Sushil Kumar Modi

Deputy Chief Minister

Government of Bihar

Subject-Stop Asbestos Cement Plants in Bihar

Sir,

This is to draw your urgent attention towards the proposed asbestos cement roofing sheet factory in Chainpur, Muzaffarpur which is facing massive and unprecedented opposition by the villagers since July 2010. It has come to light that similar plants have been proposed by Chennai based Ramco Industries Limited in Bihiya, Bhojpur and Kolkata based Utkal Asbetsos Industries, in Panapur, Vaishali.

I wish to inform you that The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 is pending in the Rajya Sabha. Some 52 countries have already banned it. There is a compelling logic to initiate the process of banning asbestos manufacturing, trade and use in Bihar as well.

It is estimated that “currently about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. According to WHO estimates, more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposures. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos. In addition, it is estimated that several thousands of deaths can be attributed annually to exposure to asbestos in the living environment.” There is a list of documents reflecting WHO’s assessment of the risks of the different forms of asbestos and WHOs’ technical directions and recommendations for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases. Please find attached a scientifically referenced fact sheet on elimination of asbestos prepared by WHO.

When the world is preparing and planning to get rid of all forms of asbestos, it makes us look stupid in Bihar, India to be still importing it, we should devote our scarce resources to prevent the impending public health disaster by phasing out this killer fiber as soon as we can.

Safer substitute materials for white asbestos are available, they should be considered for use. White (chrysotile) asbestos, which represents 100% of the global asbestos trade is not yet completely banned in India but all the relevant UN agencies have called for its immediate elimination because its safe and controlled use is impossible.

Strangely, India has banned mining of asbestos which used to be done in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand by banning non-renewal of pre-existing leases including chrysotile asbestos mines due to health hazards from its lethal fibers but allows countries like Canada to dump their asbestos in India. Asbestos waste trade is also banned in India. Besides White Asbestos, all the other forms of asbestos such as Blue Asbestos, Brown Asbestos are banned in India. But Chrysotile (white) asbestos is yet to be banned despite incontrovertible evidence against it.

Asbestos exposure leads to diseases like mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural thickening. Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract (peritoneum). It is almost exclusively related to asbestos exposure and by the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.

These asbestos factories are proposed unmindful of the fact that World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) too have called for the elimination of asbestos of all kinds. Delay in stopping asbestos plants in Bihar is a victory for those who do not wish to put health and the environment ahead of commercial interests.

The WHO document says, “Elimination of asbestos-related diseases should take place through the following public health actions: a) recognizing that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos; b) replacing asbestos with safer substitutes and developing economic and technological mechanisms to stimulate its replacement; c) taking measures to prevent exposure to asbestos in place and during asbestos removal (abatement), and; d) improving early diagnosis, treatment, social and medical rehabilitation of asbestos-related diseases and establishing registries of people with past and/or current exposures to asbestos.”

In the light of these findings and developments, in short I seek your immediate intervention to stop the construction of proposed asbestos cement plants in Bihar.

We earnestly request you to direct all the workers and consumers in your state to take immediate steps to ensure that there no more exposures take place from now on.

Thanking you in anticipation,

Gopal Krishna, Convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)

New Delhi

Mb: 9818089660

E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com

Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

P.S: Three asbestos plants by Tamil Nadu based Ramco and Nibhi Industries in Giddha, Koilwar and Bihiya Bhojpur is facing opposition. On May 11, 2011 when the Chief Minister visited Bihiya letters were sent to him demanding closure of these killer industries.

BANI regrets media’s role in fight against asbestos in Bihar

Patna,(BiharTimes): The Convenor of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Gopal Krishna, has regretted that it is quite disturbing that media in Bihar, obviously at the behest of the state government, is adopting an unscientific and anti-public health approach in dealing with incurable diseases caused by the killer fibers of asbestos.In a letter written to the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Union Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, other Union cabinet ministers, BJP leader, Lal Krishna Advani, and Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley he drew the attention towards the three white asbestos plants being set up in Koilwar and Bihiya in Bhojpur district. He said the villagers are against these three lung cancer causing asbestos plants. Such plants are banned in over 55 countries and work should be stopped here as it had been stopped in Muzaffarpur after a prolong agitation a few months back.

The letter had a declaration signedby seven eminent scientists and jurists of the world with their emails.

According to Krishna alarmed by trend of proposals for new asbestos plants in Bhojpur, Federico Demaria, a Italian researcher based in University of Barcelona, Spain who visited the district recently wrote a letter to the Chief Minister with copies marked to the Deputy Chief Minister, Union Environment Minister and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI).

In an age when most scientific and medical studies are available online, it does not require great effort to comprehend that there is no alternative to banning use and manufacture of asbestos products in Bihar in the same way as Kerala and Karnataka banned Endosulfan because health is a state subject, he said.

He said that as the State government did take progressive steps in the matter of not following the path of Special Economic Zone (SEZ), GM Food etc it can do the same if it is made to realize that there is no doubt about the eventual ban on asbestos fibers. It is the timing of the ban which is the issue. Will the state government ban it before losing its prestige or will it do so after having lost it?

He said that “if newspapers and news channels appear to be newsletters of the State Government and exercise self-censorship even when manifestly hazardous asbestos plants are being set up, it would lose the right to claim that it works in public interest. One is wondering whether or not media in Bihar has become obedient to the whims and fancies of the state government.”

“If the current trend continues we will be compelled to move to the Press Council of India and to all the other committees which has been formed to deal with the problem of Paid News to complain against such a malaise. It would be difficult to prove with simple content analysis as to how some newspapers and some news channels in particular have censored news against incurable lung cancer causing asbestos plants in Bhojpur. All the practitioners of media in general and trained journalists in particular know that one of the ways to kill news is to localise it and keep it confined to one page that gets inserted in that area. This phenomena is quite visible and merits considered attention,”. Krishna further said.

He asked has any of the newspapers and news channels in Bihar bothered to check Union Environment Ministry's 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on Page 12 reads: "Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out"?. This is available on Ministry's website.

According to him in Bihiya, there is a proposal to set up a 120,000 MT/Annum capacity of Asbestos Cement Sheet Plant and 200,000 MT/Annum capacity of Asbestos Grinding Plant. The total project area is 20 acres and land is allotted by the state government on lease for 90 years.

In Giddha village in Bhojpur, Tamil Nadu based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd is establishing the 100,000 MT Capacity Asbestos Fiber Cement Corrugated Sheet, Flat Sheet and Accessories and Light Weight Fly Ash Block Plant. This has been approved in SIPB meeting on 19th October, 2009 with a total investment for of Rs 31 crore.


http://www.bihartimes.in/Newsbihar/2011/May/Newsbihar14May2.html

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