Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Human Rights Forum & Jana Vignana Vedika demand blanket ban on asbestos

Note: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)had written to S V Prasad, Chief Secretary/Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Government of Andhra Pradesh, drawing his attention towards the proposed Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000 Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries Limited.

BANI drew his attention towards the TOR for the proposed plant dated October 25, 2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry wherein 45 paragraph refers to “Detailed action plan for compliance of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India regarding occupational health and safety measures in asbestos industries should be included” and how an order dated January 21, 2011, of Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar has not been taken note of.

In the order it is observed in para 15 that, “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.”

BANI has submitted that the Environmental Management Plan mentioned in the Chapter 10 of the DREIA submitted to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) does one respond to the work of WHO and International Labour Organization (ILO) 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.”

BANI has argued that the TOR for Sahyadri Industries Limited’s proposed asbestos sheet plant must be revised in the light of the above mentioned order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. It is clear that the company in question should be made to submit the above mentioned observations of the Hon’ble Court and the Expert Appraisal Committee-1 (Industry) must re-visited.

BANI supports Human Rights Forum (HRF) and Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) and their demand for a blanket ban on asbestos production and usage.

Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)

Human Rights Forum (HRF) and Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) oppose asbestos unit

VIJAYAWADA: Human Rights Forum (HRF) and Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) have demanded a blanket ban on asbestos production and usage.

A day ahead of the proposed public hearing on the proposed setting up of an asbestos cement sheets and accessories unit near Narsimharaopalem village in Veerulapadu mandal of Krishna district, they have rejected the move to set up the unit in Krishna District.

Asbestos was responsible for lakhs of deaths in the 20th century and continues to take a toll even in countries that have completely stopped its use such as Australia.

Workers employed in the asbestos processing sector and millions of construction workers exposed to asbestos during maintenance, renovation, and demolition activities were vulnerable to fatal cancerous diseases like ‘mesothelioma' and ‘asbestosis', HRF district convener P. Amar said in a release.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/21/stories/2011042151670300.htm

Experts oppose asbestos factory

Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA: Experts and leaders of the People's Organisations United Forum on Monday gave a call to oppose proposed asbestos cement sheets factory at Narasimharao Palem in Veerulapalem mandal in Krishna district as it would harm the lives of people in nearby villages.

At a round table organised here, environmental expert Babu Rao, and Jana Vignana Vedika leader Jampa Krishna Kishore said the people should express their disapproval to the asbestos factory at the public hearing to be held on April 21.

They said Pune-based Sahyadri Industries proposed to establish this plant with a capacity of 1.8 lakh tonnes.

Stating that the use of asbestos had been banned in 55 countries for its life-threatening qualities, Prof. Babu Rao alleged that the people's representatives and industrialists were colluding to establish such dangerous factories with least regard for public safety. He said a large number of workers and ordinary people died because of pollution from asbestos plants.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/12/stories/2011041263520500.htm

Village elders, youth differ on proposed asbestos firm

G.V.R. Subba Rao

Tense situation prevails at public hearing organised by Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board
— PHOTO: V. RAJU
HEATED EXCHANGES: Police preventing villagers from trying to create ruckus at a public hearing at Narasimharaopalem in Krishna district on Thursday.

NARASIMHARAOPALEM (Krishna Dt.): There is a divided opinion between the youth and the elderly in this village over proposed setting up of an asbestos cement sheets manufacturing company.

Police had to intervene when the youth tried to stop the elderly and environmentalists from speaking against the establishment of the factory during a public hearing organised by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board here on Thursday.

The unemployed youth welcomed the setting up of the factory expecting jobs for some of them, while the aged were apprehensive of the environmental fallout of the manufacturing process that was banned all over the developed world.

Representatives of voluntary organisations such as Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) and Rythu Coolie Sangham (RCS) had a tough time in presenting their arguments as the youth consistently opposed any view point against the company.

At one point of time, they rushed to the pulpit forcing JVV representative K. Babu Rao to end his speech abruptly.

Dr. Babu Rao, however, contended that no asbestos was safe.

Even white fibre was not declared as safe. Exposure to asbestos causes wide range of diseases including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, he said.

‘Violation of law'

The RCS assistant secretary Veerbabu pointed out that permissions were in violation of law, and the village panchayat had not passed any resolution. The behaviour of youth irked the aged, which resulted in an affray.

The police had to intervene and disburse the agitated mob.

The Sahyadri Industries Limited proposes to set up the factory.

The company advisor T. S. Nageswara Rao said that the management would take all the necessary precautions to ensure that the company did not pose any environmental and health problems.

The management would invest Rs.29.70 crore to set up the industry, which would provide employment to the villagers.

Y. Maheswara Reddy of Hyderabad-based Pioneer Enviro Labs, who prepared environmental impact assessment study, said the company would use white fibre, which was not carcinogenic, as raw material for manufacturing the cement sheets. District Additional Joint Collector Muralidhar Reddy conducted the proceedings.

The APPCB environmental engineer S. Venkateswarlu was among the others who were present.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/22/stories/2011042261270500.htm


Critique of the REIA
for
Proposed Asbestos Cement plant
of
M/s Sahyadri Industries Ltd, Narasimharaopalem


Yet another asbestos cement plant is proposed near Vijayawada in Krishna District, AP. Three are already in production.

Hyderabad Industries Ltd, IDA, Kondapalli
Ramco Industries Ltd, Ibrahimpatnam
Visaka Industries Ltd, Jujjuru

Proposed project of M/s Sahyadri Industries Ltd at Narasimharaopalem becomes the fourth in the area if permitted. Asbestos is a banned substance in 55 countries. World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation, International Agency for Research on Cancer, US Environmental Protection Agency and others consider all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile as carcinogenic. All these organisations recommend worldwide ban on use of asbestos.

According to WHO “Exposure to asbestos causes a range of diseases, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), as well as pleural plaques, thickening and effusions. There is also evidence that it causes laryngeal and possibly some other cancers.”1

“No threshold has been identified for the carcinogenic risk of chrysotile. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of lung cancer from asbestos exposure.”1

“WHO is committed to work with countries towards elimination of asbestos related diseases in the following strategic directions:
- by recognizing that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos.”1

World Health Organisation (WHO) believes asbestos to be the most important occupational carcinogen, causing 54% of all deaths from occupational cancers3.

The plight of workers in asbestos cement plants in India is evident from the following excerpt from a paper by Castleman and Joshi.3 “The plight of Indian asbestos workers was placed before the Supreme Court of India through a writ of petition filed by the Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Gujarat. The judges directed the Union and state governments “to review the standards of permissible exposure limit value of fibre... in tune with the international standards reducing the permissible limit”. The court directed the NIOH to examine employees in the asbestos industries and to certify cases of disability. Ten years later, less than 30 had been compensated for occupational disease from asbestos, out of an estimated workforce of 100,000 people exposed to asbestos in India.”3

When France banned asbestos use within its country Canada filed a case before World Trade Organisation as restricting its right to trade in asbestos. After considering the arguments and evidence brought before a panel of experts, WTO announced its decision in September 2000. “In the end the four experts agreed that (a) there is no safe level of exposure to any kind of asbestos (b) “controlled use” as defined by Canada is unrealistic and not known to occur anywhere in the world, and (c) safer substitutes for chrysotile asbestos products are available.”2

“The WTO affirmed a country’s right to ban a deadly substance as a means of absolute protection from it.”2

Under these circumstances and recent protests from people of Bihar against 6 proposed asbestos plants that made the Bihar CM to refuse permission for those plants, it is unfortunate that MoEF has issued ToR to M/s Sahyadri Industries Ltd to setup a plant in AP.

A battery plant M/s. Energy Leaders (India) Ltd – Manufacturers of Industrial Lead Acid Batteries is in the neighbourhood of the proposed plant. All toxics plants are located in poor and backward neighbourhoods all over the world. As the people are unaware of the consequences from exposure to asbestos and other toxics and the public institutions established to protect these people from toxic hazards never care about them, such projects are imposed on poor people. Cost benefit analysis also favours such locations as the poor peoples’ lives are considered cheap.

Quality of REIA Report:

As usual it is a report in favour of the company that paid the consultancy fee and is not an objective impact study. The quality is poor and no attempt is made to look at the impacts thoroughly. It is just done to fulfill regulatory requirement. Some statements made in the report are quoted here to indicate the quality of the report.

“With the 10 % growth of population, every year, the demand for AC Sheets also is increasing year by year. Hence, there is a need to set up new units every year, to cater to the needs of demand growth.” (P2-1)

This is the justification given for the need for the project. This statement shows that the EIA consultant Pioneer Enviro does not have basic knowledge on demographics. At 10% growth the population will double in every 7 years and by 2040 the world population will reach 112 billion, a mindboggling number. World today cannot afford even 1% population growth.

ToR at serial numbers 9 and 11 are not complied with. Groundwater level data and its fluctuation for the last five years is not provided. Geotechnical data is not made part of REIA and it is stated that it will be submitted later. People are being eliminated from the process of scrutiny of EIA and it is being turned into an exclusive affair between MoEF bureaucrats, their chosen experts and the companies. This is a subversion of democracy.

“A full fledged training centre will be established at Sahyadri Industries Ltd. Safety training will be provided by the safety officers with the assistance of faculty members called from professional safety institutions and universities. In addition to regular employees, contractor laborers will also given safety training.” (P7-15)

The employment generated is 20 skilled, 40 semiskilled and 315 unskilled. (P8-1) Visaka Industries at Jujjuru is using unskilled labour brought from Eastern part of India. Statement in the report that Priority will be given to local people within 10 Km, radius (P8-2) is not trustworthy. So the actual employees on rolls will be only 60. Rest of them will be contract labour with hardly any protections. So there is no obligation for the company to employ a safety officer as per the factories act. Consultants are unaware that none of the universities in AP offer any courses or programmes in safety. There are hardly any quality diploma or degree programmes in safety programmes in this country. Even IIT’s do not offer any safety course in its academic programmes. A private engineering college in Gujarat offers a Masters programme Industrial Hygiene, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai offers a part time M Sc in Industrial Hygiene and Safety and NIT, Tiruchurapalli offers M Tech in Safety Engineering in collaboration with BHEL there. There are one or two distance education diploma programmes but not of any quality. Safety culture is absent in our academic and research institutions.

“The project proponent intends to conduct regular health checkups in the surrounding villages.” (P7-16)

This is a routine claim made by all companies but never implemented. It is an eyewash to win goodwill of local people before EPH.

A safety officer will be appointed for identification of the hazardous conditions and unsafe acts of workers and advice on corrective actions, conduct safety audit and advice on various issues related to occupational safety and health. (P7-15)

As we understand there is no qualified full time safety officer in any of the asbestos cement plants in AP.

“Nose Masks made of cotton clothing material” (7-13)

Asbestos fibre is about 1/700 in diameter compared to human hair and the EIA suggesting use of cloth masks over nose to protect the workers from exposure is absolute non-sense. It indicates what kind of protection employees will get at workplace. With a highly corrupt and inept regulatory system that is prevailing in the state hardly any of the claims made in EIA are truly followed. Asbestos industry all over the world has been deceptive and criminal in exposing employees knowing fully well the consequences. In 1999, “Florida Supreme Court rules that Owens Corning willfully withheld information about the danger of working with the company's asbestos products: "It would be difficult to envision a more egregious set of circumstances . . . . a blatant disregard for human safety involving large numbers of people put at life-threatening risk."4 There are several more similar judgements in USA alone exposing the criminality of the asbestos companies. With the government of India encouraging the industry with reduced taxes, it is highly profitable with hardly any operating costs relative to other industries. With hardly any highly qualified people required as employees the salary bills are low.

Water Balance:

Plant requires 354 m3/day of water and all of it is proposed to be drawn from groundwater. The area mostly comprises of drylands and the ground water potential is also not high. No data on groundwater potential for the area is given in the report. Veerullapadu Mandal to which the Narasimharaopalem belongs has the least number of 450 borewells with electric motor driven pumpsets in the Krishna district. It is mainly because of low groundwater potential. With 900 mm/year rain fall the recharge of groundwater in the plant premises is at best 2.2 ha.m/year while the withdrawal rate is 11.7 ha.m/year. It harms agriculture and domestic water needs of people.

Water balance diagram given in the REIA report reproduced below shows cooling tower makeup. But the report does not specify use of boilers or process cooling water system.

“A blend of Asbestos Fiber of different grades will be wet ground in Edge Runner Mill and then fed to a Hydro Disintegrator where approximately 25 to 35 times (of weight of fiber) of water will be fed.” (P2-16)

Considering 330 working days, asbestos feed rate is 12888/330 = 39.05 TPD
Water required in Hydro Disintegrator = 39 x 30 = 1170 m3/day

Storage and Recirculation of asbestos contaminated water has to take place in the process.

Environmental Monitoring:

“The annual budgetary allocation for Environmental monitoring is Rs. 10 Lakhs. A third party will be engaged to monitor all the environmental parameters as per CPCB / APPCB norms.” (P6-4)

The company will outsource monitoring of the environmental quality to a third party and the meager amount set apart for the purpose indicates the quality of monitoring expected. This is only to complete regulatory formalities on paper.

Transport:

Plant requires large quantities of raw materials to be brought for processing and then send the product asbestos cement sheets to the market. It involves moving about 350,000 TPA. That is about 35000 trips of 10 ton capacity trucks in a year. It amounts to about 100 truck trips to and from the plant on average. It adds to traffic hazards and air pollution. No mention is made of this in the REIA.


Risk Assessment:

The whole of chapter 7 is garbage to fill the pages and has no relevance to the project. For example, the report mainly deals with fire that is not a real hazard for this process as none of the raw materials except pulp is combustible. There is no mention of the health hazards of asbestos under the subhead occupational health and surveillance. It is highly unethical of the consultant to mask that information.

The claims in the report regarding safe handling are bogus. The following excerpt from a testimony of a US official shows how hollow those claims are. “On the subject of controlled use, Infante (the only government official among the experts) testified that OSHA issued over 4,000 citations for violating the OSHA asbestos standard from 1996 to 1998.” 2

Other Risks:

The report mostly talked about unrealistic fire risk leaving actual process hazards. For example, failure of recirculating waterline to Hydro Disintegrator which is within the realm of possibility is not considered.

Probably, there is no other industry that has killed so many workers and people, so many books are written on and so many court cases are filed against in the world. It is pity that Indian officials are blind to facts.

References:

1. Elimination of Asbestos related diseases, WHO Factsheet 2006
2. Barry Castleman, WTO Confidential: The Case of Asbestos
3. Barry I. Castleman, Tushar Kant Joshi, The global asbestos struggle today, Eur. J. Oncol., vol. 12, n. 3, pp. 149-154, 2007
4. http://www.nycosh.org/workplace_hazards/Asbestos/owens_corning_92963.html

Group protests asbestos industry

Note: Apropos news report "Group protests asbestos industry", on behalf of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), I wish to submit that the ongoing Ban Asbestos Struggle in Sarnia, Ontario and Bhojpur, Bihar in India are related. BANI has learnt that every year 500 people are dying of asbestos related diseases in Ontario. It has been estimated that the current rate of deaths in India is 100 times the rate of deaths in Ontario.

BANI expresses its solidarity with Sarnia's Hometown Activist Movement Emerging (SHAME) and its stand against the Conservative government continued support for asbestos exports to India. BANI strongly disapproves of the dubious stand of the Liberal Party and Conservative Party which support a killer asbestos industry which is involved in gross human rights violations of the present and future generations.

I wish to draw your attention towards three proposed asbestos plants in Bhojpur, Bihar, India. 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 Indian currency Rs 10 lakh=1 million, Rs 100 lakh=Rs 1 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.
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports reveals that they will procure asbestos from Canada. This is happening because of an incestous relationship between ruling parties in Bihar, India, Quebec, Canada and the asbestos producers.


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


Group protests asbestos industry


Members of S.H.A.M.E. (Sarnia's Hometown Activist Movement Emerging) held a demonstration Saturday at the former Holmes Foundry site in Sarnia.

"Asbestos has had a huge impact on workers and families here," said organizer Zak Nicholls, joined by several participants who held signs slamming both the Liberal and Conservative governments.

"Both parties support the asbestos industry," he said, pointing to a lavish Liberal fundraiser hosted recently by a businessman leading the charge to reopen one of Canada's last-remaining asbestos mines.

Meanwhile, the Conservative government continues to support exports to India, Indonesia and other Third World countries.

Locally, all five federal election candidates have denounced asbestos exports, but Nicholls said he finds it frustrating to see campaign signs for both Liberal Tim Fugard and Conservative Pat Davidson posted near the site, at the corner of Exmouth and Christina Streets.

"We know locally where the candidates stand, and I believe them," he said. "But this is about what their parties are doing."

Although exact numbers aren't available, more than 1,000 Sarnia-area workers and family members were diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer and respiratory disease at a local workers clinic in just one decade — many cases linked to the former Holmes Foundry plant.

Sarnia-Lambton has the highest asbestos-related death rate in Ontario.

tjeffrey@theobserver.ca

By TARA JEFFREY, Sarnia Observer, April 24, 2011
http://www.theobserver.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3092643

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hunger strikes begins against mega incinerator in Delhi

Okhla Anti-Incineration Committee

PRESS NOTE

Hunger strikes begins against mega incinerator in Delhi

NEW DELHI, Apr. 23 (IPS) - The first of a series of hunger strikes planned by the residents of the Okhla colonies, in protest against a potentially toxic “waste-to-energy” incinerator being built by Jindal Ecopolis, concluded today with volunteers vowing escalate agitations.

Completing his 24-four-fast staged at the Okhla Head, near Batla House, Zain-ul-Abideen told supporters that he was prepared to sit on an indefinite fast if authorities continue to ignore the demands of the residents to site the incinerator at a safe location.

“Municipal waste-handling laws clearly say that incinerators can only sited at landfill sites, rather than in the middle of residential colonies and major institutions like the Jami Millia Islamia University and the Holy Famil Hospital, but the government is ignoring this to favour Jindal Ecopolis,” said Zain-ul-Abideen.

Chandra Rajan Arora, general secretary of the residents welfare association (RWA) of D-block in New Friends Colony, who sat in support of Zain-uk-Abideen, said the Delhi government has deliberately kept the residents in the dark about locating what is planned to be India’s biggest “waste-to-energy” incinerator and the first one in this country in the middle of thickly populated area.

“There was never any public consultation and this is yet another violation of the rules,” Chandra Rajan Arora said. She announced plans to sit on an indefinite hunger strike in New Friends Colony to press the demands of Okhla residents.

Arora said it was shocking that a 2,010 tonne incinerator will be operated by a private company amidst landmark institutions that include the Bahai Lotus temple, Fortis-Escort Heart Care Institute and the Okhla Bird Sanctuary.

Arif Khan, general secretary of Haji Colony said the plant “is bound to seriously affect our people living so near to such a big project.”

“It is well-known that around the world such incinerators are located close to places where minorities and marginalized people who have no voices live,” Khan said. “However, in this case, we are fortunate that people from nearby affluent areas like New Friends Colony are making common cause with us,” Khan said.

“Already our children are constantly sick from toxic fumes released daily by biomedical waste incinerator that has been allowed to function for years despite protests,” Khan said. “Once this 2010 tonne “waste- to-energy” plant comes up the whole of Okhla will turn into an environmental disaster.

Usman, a resident of Haji Colony, said that water leaching into the ground from a composting plant had resulted in people being constantly afflicted with skin eruptions and respiratory ailments.

“We have no choice but to use ground water which has been shown to be highly contaminated from the compost plant and the biomedical waste incinerator, also run by a private company Synergy Waste Management.

Devraj Bhadana, representative of the Delhi Jal Board Colony said the Jindal Ecopolis plant would seriously affect children studying in an MCD school in the area. "We will not allow it to come up or let their trucks enter the area," he said. .

Similar protests are underway at Narela-Bawana, Ghazipur and Timarpur against the same incinerator technology.


Signed/-

Chandra Rajan Arora, General Secretary, RWA of New Friends Colony, D-Block. Mobile 9711918001

Arif Khan, General Secretary, Haji Colony RWA . Mobile: 9891519844

Anant Trivedi, RWA member, Ishwar Nagar.

Vanya Joshi, Coordinator, Okhla Anti-Incineration Committee - 9873980694

Asha Arora, Coordinator, Okhla Anti-incineration Committee. Mobile-9711408421 .

Padma Agarwal Gen Secy RWA Jasola Vihar - 9312212419

Devraj Bhadana - Jal Board Colony - 9810101030

S. Khurana, Vice President Sukhdev Vihar RWA – 9810218150


Web address: toxicswatch.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Need to Make Andhra Pradesh Free of Cancer Causing Asbestos Fibers

To

Shri S V Prasad,

Chief Secretary/Chairman

Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board

Government of Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad

Subject-Need to Make Andhra Pradesh Free of Cancer Causing Asbestos Fibers



Dear Shri Prasad,

Pursuant to my letter dated May 10, 2007 written to the Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh, this is to draw your attention towards the proposed Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000 Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries Limited.

I am aware that the total land proposed for the proposed project is 50 Acres. The total cost of the project is Rs. 29.7 Crores. The plant is in the proximity of the village Narsimharaopalem and the nearest Railway Station is Rayanapadu. There is a Wira river nearby. The NH 9 is situated at a distance of some 6 Kms. from the proposed site.



In the TOR dated October 25, 2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry for the proposed asbestos sheet plant there is reference in 45 paragraph refers to “Detailed action plan for compliance of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India regarding occupational health and safety measures in asbestos industries should be included”. I submit that in an order dated January 21, 2011, wherein 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.”



I wish to point out that in the TOR there is reference also to “import and transport of Asbestos from Canada”, “chemistry of asbestos, handling of asbestos material”, “Chemical composition of raw material as especially amount of Tremolite, Crocidolite, Amosite and other amphiboles, Hexavalent chromium in raw material especially in serpentine, talc and chrysotile”, “Health Management Plan for Mesothalmia, Lung cancer and Asbestosis related problems in asbestos industries”, “Air quality modelling for the Asbestos handling system” and “monitoring (of) asbestos fibres”.

The reference to anthophylite, tremolite, actinolite amosite and other amphiboles in the TOR reveals that besides chrysotile (white asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos), other forms are also being used in India and is likely to be used in the proposed plant as well.

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 Environmental Management Plan mentioned in the Chapter 10 of the DREIA submitted to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) is an act in fantasy otherwise how does one respond to the work of WHO and International Labour Organization (ILO) 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 submit that these references in the TOR for the Sahyadri Industries Limited’s proposed asbestos sheet plant must be revised in the light of the above mentioned order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

If submissions above create a reason for the public hearing that is scheduled to be held on April 21st, 2011 to be cancelled with immediate effect.

At paragraph 55 of the TOR is mentioned that “Any litigation pending against the project and/or any direction/order passed by any Court of Law against the project, if so, details thereof should also be included”. It is clear that the company in question should be made to submit the above mentioned observations of the Hon’ble Court and the Expert Appraisal Committee-1 (Industry) must re-visited.



I wish to draw your attention towards the struggle of Jana Vignana Vedika and Citizens Forum Against Asbestos to stop the construction of killer plants in Andhra Pradesh. Their struggle is quite legitimate especially in the context of the recent order of the Hon’ble Court. I have learnt that some political activists have warned people of Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District and other environmental and health activists against disapproving the cancer causing asbestos plant at the public hearing.



The DREIA prepared by Pioneer Enviro Laboratories & Consultants Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad for the proposed project reveals colossal ignorance about how irremediable health impacts have made all the scientific and health institutions of UN call for elimination of future use of asbestos fibers. It fails to acknowledge that in our country mining of all forms of asbestos is banned due to its deleterious impact on health. The Canadian asbestos which is imported reveals the double standards of Canada because on one hand they are decontaminating their asbestos buildings, on other they are promoting it India.



I also wish to express my endorsement of the demands in a letter to Chief Minister dated 30th March, 2011 by National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM), Andhra Pradesh urging him to refuse environmental clearance and consent to establish for this plant. A copy of the letter was copied to me.

I wish to inform you that the proposal of asbestos cement sheets factory at Narasimharao Palem, Veerulapalem mandal, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh would harm the present and future generations of people of Andhra Pradesh in particular. Notably, the Draft Rapid Environment Impact Assessment (DREIA) reveals in Chapter 9 that “Environmental Cost Benefit analysis has not been carried out”. The entire chapter titled “Environmental Cost Benefit Analysis” has only two sentences. It is manifest act of keeping the communities in dark. The fact is that this project will incur huge health and environmental cost and cause incurable diseases like lung cancer. If these costs were made available to the affected communities, the evident hazards would unleash unprecedented outrage among them. The project proponents know it, therefore, they have chosen not to disclose the catastrophic health effect of exposure from asbestos fibers. The DREIA claims that “Complete Medical Records shall be maintained for 15 years after cessation of employment or 40 years from the beginning of the employment whichever is

earlier.” While records must be kept, the question is will keeping these records treat the incurable diseases from which workers who are exposed to asbestos fibers suffer.



I submit that admittedly the affected communities have not been informed about the environmental cost the proposed asbestos sheet plant, therefore, public hearing must be cancelled.



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 Andhra Pradesh. They discussed how Andhra Pradesh has become the asbestos capital of the country. They expressed their outrage at Andhra Pradesh government’s policy of promoting asbestos products and their manufacturing units.

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.” 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, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US. 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.

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 take steps on the following points:

· Do not grant environmental clearance to the proposed asbestos sheet plant

· Deny Consent to Establish to this hazardous factory unit

· 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 state

· Stop procurement of cancer causing asbestos based products in Andhra Pradesh

· 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)

National Alliance for Asbestos Free India (NAAFI)

Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480

Email:krishna2777@gmail.com,
Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Cc

Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh

Union Environment Minister

Union Health Minister

Union Commerce Minister

Union Finance Minister

Shri P.V. Ramesh, Principal Secretary, Health, Government of Andhra Pradesh

Member Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board

Dr P L Ahuja Rai, Director, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests

Collector, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh

Collector, Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh


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) 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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Protect and Preserve Asbestos Documents in New York Public Library

To

Mr Paul LeClerc,
President
The New York Public Library

Subject- Protect and Preserve Asbestos Documents

Dear Mr LeClerc,

Greeting from New Delhi!

I have learnt that the New York Library is proposing to destroy an important collection of asbestos documents.

May I submit that this will not serve the interest of poor asbestos victims in India and elsewhere who are consistently being denied legal relief.

I have reliably been informed that the library has not been able to return the documents to the Mr Paul Brodeur, a noted journalist who donated them. I am aware of Mr Brodeur’s outstanding work as a journalist. He is known globally for having exposed toxic hazards to workers and the public. His contribution in the field of toxic substances control is exemplary.

I have learnt that he was the first journalist to investigate and write in detail about the asbestos disease hazard, its cover-up by the asbestos industry, and the asbestos litigation that brought some measure of compensation to tens of thousands of asbestos victims.

In the light of ongoing struggle to make the world free of killer fibers of asbestos, it would serve the human rights of the present and future generations if you can return the collection to Mr Brodeur in toto or you may consider sharing with us in India instead of destroying it.

Your act of treasuring it for so long and sharing it with research and advocacy groups who work to make their countries asbestos free will be deemed valuable.
It will encourage public spirited people across the globe to share their academic resources with libraries for the benefit of humanity.

On behalf of National Alliance for Asbestos Free India and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), I am requesting you earnestly and solemnly to share all these asbestos related documents with Mr Brodeur or me. It will help the innocent victims of asbestos industry in ensuring legal remedy at some point in future.

If you can do so, we in India will remain grateful and will appreciate your gesture for ever.

Warm Regards
Gopal Krishna
Convener
National Alliance for Asbestos Free India
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
New Delhi
Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480
E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com
Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Monday, April 18, 2011

Canada’s Provincial Government Lies to Promote Chrysotile (White) asbestos

Press Release

Canada’s Provincial Government Lies to Promote Chrysotile (White) asbestos

Quebec Minister Misquotes India’s Supreme Court Order

Congress MP Pressurizing People to Support Asbestos Plant in Andhra Pradesh

New Delhi-Stooping to an unprecedented low in order to protect the profit mongers of asbestos mining industry, statement of ClĂ©ment Gignac, Economic development minister, Canadian province of Quebec has done the unthinkable by claiming “Asbestos could help save lives in India”.

Gignac has been caught blatantly lying about the established toxicity of chrysotile asbestos and with regard to Supreme Court of India’s order of 21st January, 2011.
Gignac’s claims about having studied the ruling of India's highest court saying, "I read that ruling A to Z" is an impudent lie.

Did he read this significant aspect of the order dated January 21, 2011, wherein Supreme 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.” It is noteworthy that Rajya Sabha is India’s Upper House of Parliament where once Bill is introduced, 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 the light of the above, BANI seek apology from Gignac for attempting to misled the people in Quebec and Canada. He has been caught red handed.

Amidst bitter protests Gignac visited India twice and has approved support for the Jeffrey mine through a $58 million loan guarantee for blood tainted millions of dollars in taxes and royalties to Quebec which in turn will create a $7.5 million economic diversification fund for the region.

Jeffrey and its backers have to raise $25 million in financing by July 1, 2011. Montreal businessman Baljit Chadha's Balcorp Ltd must refrain from buying chrysotile asbestos from Jeffrey and selling the fibre to asbestos products manufacturers in India.

BANI salutes the role of Canadian Cancer Society which called on the Canada’s provincial government to withdraw its support for the Jeffrey mine expansion and endorses their statement,. "This decision directly conflicts with global cancer control. The epidemic of asbestos-related concerns, both in Canada and around the world, will continue to spread".

The question is: how many times does Quebec and Canadian government need to be proven wrong to realize that by playing into the hands of profit mongers who are indulging in barbarism and gross human rights violation, they are sinking the reputation of Quebec and Canada for good.

Meanwhile, revealing the brutal character of asbestos companies, it has reliably been learnt that Lagadapati Rajagopal, Congress MP from Vijaywada is putting pressure on people to approve the construction of a asbestos plant by Pune-based Sahyadri Industries that has proposed to establish this plant with a capacity of 1.8 lakh tonnes. Amid massive opposition to the asbestos factory, a public hearing is scheduled to be held on April 21, 2011. Some political people have warned people against disapproving the cancer causing asbestos plant at the public hearing.

The proposal of asbestos cement sheets factory at Narasimharao Palem, Veerulapalem mandal, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh would harm the present and future generations of people of Andhra Pradesh in particular. Notably, the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has not been made available to the affected communities and in the absence of the Telgu version of the EIA, the public hearing must be cancelled.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) supports the struggle of Jana Vignana Vedika and Citizens Forum Against Asbestos to stop the construction of killer plants in Andhra Pradesh

It abundantly clear that the Canadian asbestos traders have become more powerful than Governments of India, Canada and Quebec. Unmindful of the ongoing ban on asbestos in almost the entire developed world, Congress governments, its various fiscal policies and rural support schemes have been promoting asbestos based products and building materials under the influence of owners of asbestos companies.

There is at least one senior Congress leader and one MP of Indian National Congress who owns one of the biggest asbestos companies in the country. The MP’s asbestos company has built a asbestos factory in Raebarely, the parliamentary constituency of Sonia Gandhi. Former Cabinet Minister and veteran party leader, G Venkat Swamy who demanded the resignation of Gandhi is the father of G Vivekanand, a Congress Party MP and G Vinod, former minister in the Congress Party in the state till 2009. Vivekanand is the owner of Visaka Industries that has built the killer asbestos plant in Gandhi’s constituency.

Congress governments have been promoting asbestos companies without any moral scruples under the insurmountable influence of asbestos producers of Quebec, Canada and manufacturers in India. Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister has included asbestos under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna in his 2011-12 Budget Speech. Is it sufficient to deal with a health crisis caused due to killer fibers of asbestos that is estimated to cause some 50,000 deaths every year?

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) had written to the Finance Minister seeking incentives for alternatives of asbestos. But since 1982, as a Finance Minister, Mukherjee has extended the general scheme of excise duty concession to manufacturers of asbestos fibre and yarn. Since then, asbestos industry remains the pet child of the congress party or maybe it is the other way round.

The upcoming fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (COP-5) to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 20 – 24 June 2011 will once again decide the fate of inclusion of chrysotile in the list of hazardous chemicals.

If Indian government opposes inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list even now, it would clearly mean that it is being anti-worker, anti-people and anti- science. While presenting the Union Budget (1995-96), Manmohan Singh, the then Union Minister of Finance too had expressed his support for the asbestos industry on 15th March, 1995 saying, “I am also proposing reduction in excise duty in certain areas of general consumption on asbestos fibres from 20% to 10% and on asbestos cement articles from 30% to 25%.” Excise duty is a percentage tax levied on a company's revenue, instead of (like income tax) on the company's income.

The trend of making asbestos and its products artificially cheaper with the blessings of the ruling political party continues till today with the active support of Union Commerce Ministry and Union Finance Ministry, Environment Ministry’s environmental clearance to asbestos factories even as Union Health Minister expresses his helplessness to ban use of cancer causing asbestos fiber in the parliament.

In order to address the continuing burden of diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, the ILO has developed international standards and guidelines to contribute to the elimination of asbestos-related diseases (ARD) worldwide. This is in pursuance of the ILO resolution of June 2006 seeking “elimination of the future use of asbestos and the identification and proper management of asbestos currently in place” as “the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos exposure and to prevent future asbestos-related diseases and deaths”.

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. The World Health Assembly Resolution 58.22 of 2005 on cancer prevention urges Member States to pay special attention to cancers for which avoidable exposure is a factor, including exposure to chemicals at the workplace. With Resolution 60.26, the World Health Assembly requested WHO “to carry out a global campaign for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases ".

Aren’t Governments of Quebec, Canada, India and Andhra Pradesh aware of it? Why are they pretending colossal ignorance about incurable diseases caused by exposure to asbestos fibers?

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India/National Alliance for Asbestos Free India, Mb: 9818089660, 07739308480, E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com,
Web: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com


j

Thursday, April 14, 2011

BANI Condemns Quebec Govt’s Support for asbestos mine expansion

Press Release

BANI Condemns Quebec Govt’s Support for asbestos mine expansion

Scientists, Doctors & Jurists Seek Elimination of White Asbestos

Environmental & Health Groups Demand Asbestos Free India

Existing Ban on Asbestos Mining in India Must Continue

New Delhi/14 April 2011: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), National Alliance for Asbestos Free India & Asbestos Mukti Andolan has condemned the Quebec government’s approval of the expansion of the Jeffrey asbestos mine in Asbestos, along with a $7.5-million economic diversification fund for the region. Quebec is a province in Canada.

Lyle Hargrove, Chairperson, Occupational Clinics for Ontario Workers, Canada who was in New Delhi in March, 2011 said, “I believe that it is real Black mark on my Canada for exporting ASBESTOS to India. We have cities devastated by Asbestos Manufacturing in the sixties and 70s. Workers were dying from Asbestos diseases and others were Sick including people that work in the plants, their family was getting sick as well. I demand that Canada quit exporting Asbestos to India and quit mining in Quebec. Asbestos is too dangerous to work with and I believe there is no safe level.”

Scientists and doctors ask, why is it that Canada applies strict measures domestically to protect the health of Canadians handling asbestos and yet exports asbestos to developing countries such as India, where the capacity to implement and monitor the application of similar precautionary measures is inadequate.

Collegium Ramazzini, a Italy based independent, international academy founded in 1982 by Irving J. Selikoff, Cesare Maltoni and other eminent scientists that comprises of 180 internationally renowned experts in the fields of occupational and environmental health too has called for ban on chrysotile (white) asbestos to protect public health.

Balcorp Ltd buys chrysotile (white) asbestos from the Jeffrey Mine in the town of Asbestos, about 150 kilometres northeast of Montreal, for the last 15 years. Balcorp Ltd company is an international trade and marketing firm with offices in Westmount, New Delhi and Mumbai. It sells the killer fibres of asbestos to more than a dozen asbestos products manufacturers in India.

Quebec government has shown inhuman insensitivity towards the outrage expressed by world’s scientific and medical community and the India’s ongoing ban asbestos movement who had sought stoppage of export of these lethal mineral fibres.

Earlier, in March 2011, while on a visit to New Delhi, 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 hear, please do not make the same mistake as we made in Canada. Stop using asbestos and use a safe alternative.”

The exposure to this carcinogen is a human rights violation, disturbed by asbestos consumption in India, 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.”

Commenting on the propaganda unleashed by Quebec’s asbestos companies, Prof. Arthur L Frank,PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US said, “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 bisases except for protecting people’s health”.

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.”

New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of asbestos including chrysotile from India was adopted and endorsed by eminent scientists and doctors on 24th March, 2011 at a Round Table which happened immediately after the conclusion of International Conference on "Emerging Trends in Preventing Occupational Respiratory Diseases and Cancers in Workplace". The Declaration is attached.

The Ministry of Mines, Government of India must ensure that the existing ban on white asbestos mining is not lifted in the interest public health the proposal of Indian Bureau of Mines at the behest of asbestos mining lobby. BANI has made its submissions to the Ministry citing resolutions of WHO and ILO seeking elimination of future use of asbestos which has been endorsed by the Supreme Court of India in its January, 2011 order. There is a Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha seeking ban on white asbestos. BANi appeals to all the political parties to support the passage of the Bill to safe guard the health of present and future generations.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), which has been working for asbestos free India. BANI has been campaigning for a asbestos free India and is assisting the Asbestos Mukti Andolan in Bihar.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)/National Alliance for Asbestos Free India/ Asbestos Mukti Andolan, Bihar Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480 Email:krishna2777@gmail.com, Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Need to Make Kerala Free of Cancer Causing Asbestos Fibers

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) National Alliance for Asbestos Free India

To

Dr. P. Prabakaran
Chief Secretary
Government of Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram
E-mail: chiefsecy@kerala.gov.in

Subject-Need to Make Kerala Free of Cancer Causing Asbestos Fibers

Dear Sir,

Pursuant to letter of Dr Barry Castleman dated 15th July, 2010, telephonic conversation dated 13th July, 2010 with Industry Minister, Kerala, reply of 22th June, 2010 from the Director of Industries and Commerce to his letter to Minister of Industry, Kerala dated 18th January, 2010 and his conversations with Labor Minister, Kerala in the context of Kerala Human Rights Commission order dated 31st January, 2009 banning use of asbestos-cement construction materials in schools, hospitals, and other public buildings, this is 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. The Declaration is is enclosed. Dr Castleman’s first letter is attached.

This Declaration was adopted 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.

This is also to draw your attention towards the fact that Kerala has a state owned asbestos company, Kerala Asbestos Cement pipe Factory Limited. A study titled 'Risk factors of ovarian cancer in Trivandrum' of 2008 refers to asbestos exposure too in its research.

The delegates at the Round Table discussed the asbestos policy of Kerala. They discussed the order of Kerala Human Rights Commission (KHRC) banning use of asbestos materials. The delegates were eager to know about the status of enforcement of KHRC order.

The delegates were of the considered opinion that Kerala government should phase out manufacturing and use of asbestos while implementing the KHRC order in order to pursue a path of alternatives of asbestos as a building material.

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.

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.”

Deeply disturbed by the state of affairs in India with regard to asbestos consumption, 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.” Richter called on experts in human rights to reframe the carcinogen as a human rights violation to ban asbestos.

“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, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US.

Why does Canada apply strict measures domestically to protect the health of Canadians handling asbestos and yet exports asbestos to developing countries such as India, where the capacity to implement and monitor the application of similar precautionary measures is inadequate?, asked Dr. T.K. Joshi, Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini, Italy, an independent, international academy founded in 1982 by Irving J. Selikoff, Cesare Maltoni and other eminent scientists. The academy comprises of 180 internationally renowned experts in the fields of occupational and environmental health. The mission of the Collegium Ramazzini is to advance the study of occupational and environmental health issues and to be a bridge between the world of scientific discovery and the social and political centers which must act on the discoveries of science to protect public health. Notably, Canada avoids using asbestos in it was own country but exports it to India.

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.”

“It is well known around the world that asbestos is hazardous to human health, and that there is no such thing as “safe use” of asbestos, just like there is no “safe cigarette”. The government of India would do better to aim for growth through development of safe industries, and to lower the prices of substitutes, rather than promote use of this hazardous substance,” opined Dr Yael Stein, MD, Unit of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hebrew University, Israel.

Lyle Hargrove, Chairperson, Occupational Clinics for Ontario Workers, Canada said, “I believe that it is real Black mark on my Canada for exporting ASBESTOS to India. We have cities devastated by Asbestos Manufacturing in the sixties and 70s. Workers were dying from Asbestos diseases and others were Sick including people that work in the plants, their family was getting sick as well. I demand that Canada quit exporting Asbestos to India and quit mining in Quebec. Asbestos is too dangerous to work with and I believe there is no safe level.”

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. The conference was deeply concerned about asbestos related diseases and the alarming rise of asbestos in India. The Round Table was organized by Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), which has been working for asbestos free India.

BANI is a research based collective of concerned scientists, doctors, public health scholars, environmental researchers and journalists that has been campaigning for asbestos free India and is assisting the Asbestos Mukti Andolan and National Alliance for Asbestos Free India.

In short, we request you to take urgent steps on the following points:

• 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 300 medical colleges in the state

• Stop Kerala Asbestos Cement pipe Factory Limited from manufacturing cancer causing asbestos based products

• 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

• Review and rescind those policies which promote asbestos and asbestos based products in the state

Your Government has the solemn duty to safeguard the public health of present and future generations from the exposures of killer fibers of asbestos which are akin to a time bomb for the lungs. We would be quite happy to share more details about the asbestos related incurable diseases.

I am copying this message to medical and legal experts who were there at the recent International Conference mentioned above in case you wish to seek their opinions. I am also copying it to some relevant ministries and departments. (a pdf version of this letter is attached). I am also copying to concerned ministers, officials, MPs and media people in order to communicate to them about incurable diseases caused due to exposure of asbestos fibers.

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

Thanking you in anticipation

Yours Sincerely

Gopal Krishna,
Convener,
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
National Alliance for Asbestos Free India (NAAFI)
Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480
Email:krishna2777@gmail.com
Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com


Cc

Chief Minister, Government of Kerala

Union Environment Minister

Union Health Minister

Union Commerce Minister

Union Finance Minister

Union Minister for Defence

Union Minister for Overseas Affairs

Members of Parliament from Kerala

Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Kerala

Minister for Education and Culture, Government of Kerala

Minister for Home, Government of Kerala

Labor Minister, Government of Kerala

Industry Minister, Government of Kerala

Minister for Public Works, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Sports, Government of Kerala

Minister for Transport, Government of Kerala

Chairman, Kerala State Pollution Control Board

Member Secretary, Kerala State Pollution Control Board

Secretary, Coastal shipping and Inland Navigation, Government of Kerala

Secretary-Transport, Government of Kerala

Secretary-Consumer Affairs, Government of Kerala

Principal Secretary-Finance, Government of Kerala

Secretary-General Administration, Government of Kerala

Special Secretary- Health, Government of Kerala

Additional Secretary-Home, Government of Kerala

Additional Chief Secretary-Industries, Government of Kerala

Secretary – Labour, Government of Kerala

Secretary – Law, Government of Kerala

Additional Secretary - Planning and Economic Affairs, Government of Kerala

Additional Secretary – Power, Government of Kerala

Additional Chief Secretary – Revenue, Government of Kerala

Secretary - Science and Technology, Government of Kerala

Secretary - Water Resources, Government of Kerala

Dr P L Ahuja Rai, Director, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests

Mr. Sooraj, Director, Industries and Commerce, Government of Kerala

District Offices of Kerala

Media Offices of Kerala

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) 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


Letter of Dr Barry Castleman to Industry Minister of Kerala
January 18, 2010


Hon. Elamaran Kareem
Minister of Industry

Kerala


Dear Mr. Kareem,

I am a public health scientist and work with people around the world on public health efforts to prevent asbestos disease. Dr. MK Pandhe has been a key ally for years in trying to reverse India's disastrous expansion of asbestos use in construction. He advised me last month while I was in India that you would be receptive to hearing about this issue and what you and other leaders could do about it in Kerala.

I have also discussed this issue with Labor Minister PK Gurudasan and several members of his staff last month while I was in Kerala, and he was interested in taking action.


The Kerala Human Rights Commission has announced that schools, hospitals, and other public buildings shall no longer use asbestos-cement construction materials. This is consistent with the global recognition that asbestos dust inhalation causes cancer and a potentially fatal lung scarring disease, asbestosis. About 50 countries have banned asbestos, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for all countries to ban asbestos products. The widespread use of asbestos in construction materials in India is particularly dangerous, because of the impossibility of protecting the millions of construction workers and building occupants from the dust raised in construction, repair, renovation, and demolition. There is no safe threshold of exposure to airborne asbestos dust that is free from the risk of cancer. Mesothelioma, the "signal tumor" for asbestos exposure, has been widely reported in neighbors of asbestos plants and among family members who lived in the households of asbestos workers.
http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/asbestosrelateddiseases.pdf


The World Bank’s policy is to avoid asbestos in new construction and to use internationally recognized precautions if in-place asbestos has to be disturbed in Bank-funded construction projects. I was the consultant to the World Bank in drafting its Good Practice Note on asbestos published in May, 2009, and am currently a consultant to WHO.
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTPOPS/Resources/AsbestosGuidanceNoteFinal.pdf

In contrast to most of India, Kerala uses very little asbestos, and the one asbestos-cement roofing factory in Kerala is state-owned. The factory is in a district next to the one you come from, I believe. This provides an extraordinary opportunity for Kerala to make public health advances. The state-owned plant can be converted to make non-asbestos fiber-cement. And Kerala can ban asbestos in construction materials, which for India account for over 90% of current asbestos use which is rising at 10 percent yearly.

As a consultant for the World Bank and WHO, one thing I have tried to do is assemble is a directory of companies offering alternative technology to asbestos-cement products. In the course of this, I have come into contact with people in South Africa who replaced asbestos with polyvinylalcohol (PVA) fibers and cellulose, a company in Brazil that uses polypropylene and cellulose instead of asbestos, and another firm in Italy that touts acrylic fibers as superior in replacing asbestos in fiber-cement. I would be glad to put you in touch with these people, so you can invite them to make proposals for conversion of the state-owned asbestos-cement plant in Kerala. These sources say that once a plant is converted, the products cost up to 10-12% more than asbestos products and have some superior properties (e.g., lighter, less brittle, improved nailability).

I can provide abundant additional information on any of the issues covered above but will end this letter here as a proposal to you for more detailed consideration of the matter. Please let me know if you are interested in this idea of substituting asbestos at the state-owned plant, and I will provide more information on people to contact, etc. The approach of avoiding asbestos through state procurement has already been recognized by the Kerala Human Rights Commission. This can be followed with a total ban on asbestos use in Kerala, with potentially enormous lifesaving value for the people of Kerala and all India.

With best wishes,

Barry Castleman

-
Barry Castleman, ScD
Environmental Consultant
P.O. Box 188
Garrett Park MD 20896 USA
Tel. 301-933-9097

Need to Make Kerala Free of Cancer Causing Asbestos Fibers

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) National Alliance for Asbestos Free India

To

Dr. P. Prabakaran

Chief Secretary

Government of Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram

E-mail: chiefsecy@kerala.gov.in

Subject-Need to Make Kerala Free of Cancer Causing Asbestos Fibers

Dear Sir,

Pursuant to letter of Dr Barry Castleman dated 15th July, 2010, telephonic conversation dated 13th July, 2010 with Industry Minister, Kerala, reply of 22th June, 2010 from the Director of Industries and Commerce to his letter to Minister of Industry, Kerala dated 18th January, 2010 and his conversations with Labor Minister, Kerala in the context of Kerala Human Rights Commission order dated 31st January, 2009 banning use of asbestos-cement construction materials in schools, hospitals, and other public buildings, this is 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. The Declaration is is enclosed. Dr Castleman’s first letter is attached.

This Declaration was adopted 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.

This is also to draw your attention towards the fact that Kerala has a state owned asbestos company, Kerala Asbestos Cement pipe Factory Limited. A study titled 'Risk factors of ovarian cancer in Trivandrum' of 2008 refers to asbestos exposure too in its research.

The delegates at the Round Table discussed the asbestos policy of Kerala. They discussed the order of Kerala Human Rights Commission (KHRC) banning use of asbestos materials. The delegates were eager to know about the status of enforcement of KHRC order.

The delegates were of the considered opinion that Kerala government should phase out manufacturing and use of asbestos while implementing the KHRC order in order to pursue a path of alternatives of asbestos as a building material.

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.

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.”

Deeply disturbed by the state of affairs in India with regard to asbestos consumption, 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.” Richter called on experts in human rights to reframe the carcinogen as a human rights violation to ban asbestos.

“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, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, US.

Why does Canada apply strict measures domestically to protect the health of Canadians handling asbestos and yet exports asbestos to developing countries such as India, where the capacity to implement and monitor the application of similar precautionary measures is inadequate?, asked Dr. T.K. Joshi, Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini, Italy, an independent, international academy founded in 1982 by Irving J. Selikoff, Cesare Maltoni and other eminent scientists. The academy comprises of 180 internationally renowned experts in the fields of occupational and environmental health. The mission of the Collegium Ramazzini is to advance the study of occupational and environmental health issues and to be a bridge between the world of scientific discovery and the social and political centers which must act on the discoveries of science to protect public health. Notably, Canada avoids using asbestos in it was own country but exports it to India.

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.”

“It is well known around the world that asbestos is hazardous to human health, and that there is no such thing as “safe use” of asbestos, just like there is no “safe cigarette”. The government of India would do better to aim for growth through development of safe industries, and to lower the prices of substitutes, rather than promote use of this hazardous substance,” opined Dr Yael Stein, MD, Unit of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hebrew University, Israel.

Lyle Hargrove, Chairperson, Occupational Clinics for Ontario Workers, Canada said, “I believe that it is real Black mark on my Canada for exporting ASBESTOS to India. We have cities devastated by Asbestos Manufacturing in the sixties and 70s. Workers were dying from Asbestos diseases and others were Sick including people that work in the plants, their family was getting sick as well. I demand that Canada quit exporting Asbestos to India and quit mining in Quebec. Asbestos is too dangerous to work with and I believe there is no safe level.”

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. The conference was deeply concerned about asbestos related diseases and the alarming rise of asbestos in India. The Round Table was organized by Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), which has been working for asbestos free India.

BANI is a research based collective of concerned scientists, doctors, public health scholars, environmental researchers and journalists that has been campaigning for asbestos free India and is assisting the Asbestos Mukti Andolan and National Alliance for Asbestos Free India.

In short, we request you to take urgent steps on the following points:

• 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 300 medical colleges in the state

• Stop Kerala Asbestos Cement pipe Factory Limited from manufacturing cancer causing asbestos based products

• 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

• Review and rescind those policies which promote asbestos and asbestos based products in the state

Your Government has the solemn duty to safeguard the public health of present and future generations from the exposures of killer fibers of asbestos which are akin to a time bomb for the lungs. We would be quite happy to share more details about the asbestos related incurable diseases.

I am copying this message to medical and legal experts who were there at the recent International Conference mentioned above in case you wish to seek their opinions. I am also copying it to some relevant ministries and departments. (a pdf version of this letter is attached). I am also copying to concerned ministers, officials, MPs and media people in order to communicate to them about incurable diseases caused due to exposure of asbestos fibers.

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

Thanking you in anticipation

Yours Sincerely

Gopal Krishna,

Convener,

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)

National Alliance for Asbestos Free India (NAAFI)

Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480

Email:krishna2777@gmail.com

Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com


Cc


Chief Minister, Government of Kerala

Union Environment Minister

Union Health Minister

Union Commerce Minister

Union Finance Minister

Union Minister for Defence

Union Minister for Overseas Affairs

Members of Parliament from Kerala

Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Kerala

Minister for Education and Culture, Government of Kerala

Minister for Home, Government of Kerala

Labor Minister, Government of Kerala

Industry Minister, Government of Kerala

Minister for Public Works, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Sports, Government of Kerala

Minister for Transport, Government of Kerala

Chairman, Kerala State Pollution Control Board

Member Secretary, Kerala State Pollution Control Board

Secretary, Coastal shipping and Inland Navigation, Government of Kerala

Secretary-Transport, Government of Kerala

Secretary-Consumer Affairs, Government of Kerala

Principal Secretary-Finance, Government of Kerala

Secretary-General Administration, Government of Kerala

Special Secretary- Health, Government of Kerala

Additional Secretary-Home, Government of Kerala

Additional Chief Secretary-Industries, Government of Kerala

Secretary – Labour, Government of Kerala

Secretary – Law, Government of Kerala

Additional Secretary - Planning and Economic Affairs, Government of Kerala

Additional Secretary – Power, Government of Kerala

Additional Chief Secretary – Revenue, Government of Kerala

Secretary - Science and Technology, Government of Kerala

Secretary - Water Resources, Government of Kerala

Dr P L Ahuja Rai, Director, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests

Mr. Sooraj, Director, Industries and Commerce, Government of Kerala

District Offices of Kerala

Media Offices of Kerala


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) 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


Dr Barry Castleman's Letter to Industry Minister, Government of Kerala

January 18, 2010

Hon. Elamaran Kareem

Minister of Industry

Kerala


Dear Mr. Kareem,

I am a public health scientist and work with people around the world on public health efforts to prevent asbestos disease. Dr. MK Pandhe has been a key ally for years in trying to reverse India's disastrous expansion of asbestos use in construction. He advised me last month while I was in India that you would be receptive to hearing about this issue and what you and other leaders could do about it in Kerala.

I have also discussed this issue with Labor Minister PK Gurudasan and several members of his staff last month while I was in Kerala, and he was interested in taking action.


The Kerala Human Rights Commission has announced that schools, hospitals, and other public buildings shall no longer use asbestos-cement construction materials. This is consistent with the global recognition that asbestos dust inhalation causes cancer and a potentially fatal lung scarring disease, asbestosis. About 50 countries have banned asbestos, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for all countries to ban asbestos products. The widespread use of asbestos in construction materials in India is particularly dangerous, because of the impossibility of protecting the millions of construction workers and building occupants from the dust raised in construction, repair, renovation, and demolition. There is no safe threshold of exposure to airborne asbestos dust that is free from the risk of cancer. Mesothelioma, the "signal tumor" for asbestos exposure, has been widely reported in neighbors of asbestos plants and among family members who lived in the households of asbestos workers. http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/asbestosrelateddiseases.pdf


The World Bank’s policy is to avoid asbestos in new construction and to use internationally recognized precautions if in-place asbestos has to be disturbed in Bank-funded construction projects. I was the consultant to the World Bank in drafting its Good Practice Note on asbestos published in May, 2009, and am currently a consultant to WHO. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTPOPS/Resources/AsbestosGuidanceNoteFinal.pdf


In contrast to most of India, Kerala uses very little asbestos, and the one asbestos-cement roofing factory in Kerala is state-owned. The factory is in a district next to the one you come from, I believe. This provides an extraordinary opportunity for Kerala to make public health advances. The state-owned plant can be converted to make non-asbestos fiber-cement. And Kerala can ban asbestos in construction materials, which for India account for over 90% of current asbestos use which is rising at 10 percent yearly.


As a consultant for the World Bank and WHO, one thing I have tried to do is assemble is a directory of companies offering alternative technology to asbestos-cement products. In the course of this, I have come into contact with people in South Africa who replaced asbestos with polyvinylalcohol (PVA) fibers and cellulose, a company in Brazil that uses polypropylene and cellulose instead of asbestos, and another firm in Italy that touts acrylic fibers as superior in replacing asbestos in fiber-cement. I would be glad to put you in touch with these people, so you can invite them to make proposals for conversion of the state-owned asbestos-cement plant in Kerala. These sources say that once a plant is converted, the products cost up to 10-12% more than asbestos products and have some superior properties (e.g., lighter, less brittle, improved nailability).


I can provide abundant additional information on any of the issues covered above but will end this letter here as a proposal to you for more detailed consideration of the matter. Please let me know if you are interested in this idea of substituting asbestos at the state-owned plant, and I will provide more information on people to contact, etc. The approach of avoiding asbestos through state procurement has already been recognized by the Kerala Human Rights Commission. This can be followed with a total ban on asbestos use in Kerala, with potentially enormous lifesaving value for the people of Kerala and all India.

With best wishes,

Barry Castleman


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Barry Castleman, ScD
Environmental Consultant
P.O. Box 188
Garrett Park MD 20896 USA
Tel. 301-933-9097

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