Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) that works for Asbestos Free India inspired by trade union leader Purnendu Majumadar. Occupational Health India and ToxicsWatch Alliance are its members that includes doctors, researchers and activists. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. It works with trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. For Details: 1715krishna@gmail.com

Thursday, June 30, 2011

BANI & TWA Appreciate role of Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers at UN Meet

To

Shri M. K. Alagiri
Union Minister
Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers
Government of India
New Delhi

Subject-BANI & TWA Appreciate role of Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers at UN Meet

Dear Shri Alagiri,

On behalf of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), I wish to express my gratitutde for your exemplary decision of Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India in reversing India's long held position on chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) that clears the way for its elimination in near future.

I had written on 16th June, 2011 urging you"to rectify its (Government of India) untenable position on hazardous nature of chrysotile asbestos in Geneva" at the UN Meet on Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides. The letter is given below.

BANI and TWA salute you for resisting the influence of twins of asbestos companies- Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association and Asbestos Information Centre.

Now I say that unlike the Canadian Prime Minister whose act has compelled European Union (EU) to call for sanctions against Canada for derailing a United Nations protocol to protect vulnerable populations from the hazards of asbestos on June 30, 2011, your ministry has worked silently but made its impact at a global level.

It is indeed quite sad that both national and regional media is so obsessed with vulture stories that when something as historic and dramatic as a reversal in the position of Government of India with regard to support for the demand for inclusion of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) in the UN list of hazardous chemicals and pesticides This happened at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the PIC Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade in Switzerland on 22nd June, 2011

I am aware that your Ministry is the Focal Point for the Rotterdam Convention. At this UN Meet, Indian delegation recieved was greeted with standing ovation from the delegates from all over the world. But when this happened there was deafening silence in Indian media.

It is appropriate in such a sitiation that the Press Council of India and Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting seek an explanantion from the news channels, newspapers, business newspapers, news magazines, radio and news websites who chose to make this global news of seminal importance becasue it paves the way for eventual phase out of all chrysotile asbestos basesd prodfuct to safeguard teh health of present and future generation of Indians, a non-news in India.

I wish state that BANI and TWA applaud your ministry's role at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the PIC Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade in Switzerland on 22nd June, 2011 in the matter of listing of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) in the UN list of hazardous chemicals and pesticides.

BANI places on record its appreciation for the work of Ms Mira Mehrishi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Mr Manoranjan Hota, Mr Sanjay Bansal, Director, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers and Ms Jyoti Singhal, Under Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture in annoucing that Government of India considers chrysotile asbestos suitiable for listing in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure list of hazardous chemicals.

BANI and TWA take the opportunity ask you to suggest followng logical next steps to your decision in view of the fact that both present and future generation of Indians are at risk:

1. Create an inventory of all asbestos based products and public and private buildings which are laden with asbestos

2. Start a program to remove asbestos from public and private buildings such as legislatures, courts, hospitals, schools, railway platforms, buildings of armed forces, National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commissions

3. Issue an order to all the Chief Secretary of States and Administartors of Union Territories to stop construction of new asbestos based plants, stop procurement and use of asbestos based products and construction materials;

4. Issue an order to start the process of decontaminating the buildings of legislators, judges, hospitals, schools and railway platforms with immediate effect;

5. Ask all the departments of Government of India, state governments and Union Territories to submit inventory of asbestos products, list of asbestos based factories and a register of victims of asbestos related diseases;

6. Recommend to all the 300 medical colleges in India to include study enviro-occupational diseases in their courses so that they can diagnose asbestos and other enviro-occupational exposures;

7. Initiate a rehablitation and compensation program for victims of incurable diseases caused by asbestos and other enviro-occupational exposures;

If these measures are undertaken, present and future generation of Indians will remember you as a seemingly silent but effective minister who left his mark despite all odds.

An appropriate order may be passed with regard to the above and my previous submission to you.

I will be happy to share relevant information and documents.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

New Delhi

Mb: 9818089660

E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, toxicswatchalliance@gmail.com

Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Web: www.toxicswatch.com


Letter to Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers

Date: 16 June, 2011

To

Shri M. K. Alagiri

Union Minister

Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers

Government of India

New Delhi

Ph: 011-23386519

Shri M. Raman

Secretary

Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers

Government of India

New Delhi

Ph:011 23384196(o), 23382467(o), 24645798(R)

Dr. V. Rajagopalan

Additional Secretary

Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers

Government of India

New Delhi

Ph: 011-23382468

Shri Suresh Chandra Gupta

Joint Secretary (Chemical Division)

Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers

Government of India

New Delhi

Ph: 011-23383756

Shri Sanjay Bansal

Director

Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers

Government of India

New Delhi

Ph:011-23387761

Subject- Support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure list of hazardous chemicals at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (20 to 24 June, 2011, Geneva)

Sir,

This is an earnest appeal to you to ensure that Government of India's delegation votes to list chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) as a hazardous substance, which it has been refusing to do so since 2004 (COP1) years under the influence of asbestos companies unmindful of the human rights violation it entails.

I submit that during 20- 24 June, 2011, India will get yet another opportunity to rectify its untenable position on hazardous nature of chrysotile asbestos in Geneva at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. Having succeeded in, blocking UN recommendations on, four previous occasions, there is little doubt that, chrysotile asbestos producers will repeat their obstructive, behaviour at the COP-5, Rotterdam Convention held in Geneva. It is high time Government of India detached itself from their unethical practice.

It appears that your Ministry has been misled about the toxicity of to chrysotile asbestos. As a consequence, the global public opinion and Indian citizens have begun to consider you as the main obstacle to the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in the list of UN agreement on hazardous chemicals.

It is public knowledge that chrysotile asbestos based plant is operating in Raebarelly, Utter Pradesh in the face of countries after countries banning it. It is also an open secret that the plant is owned by a Member of Parliament of Indian National Congress who runs a chrysotile asbestos company. In such a context,

I appeal to you to:

Resist undue influence of chrysotile asbestos companies

Support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure list of hazardous materials at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN's Rotterdam Convention to be held from 20 to 24 June, 2011 in Geneva

Prohibit import, manufacture and use of asbestos based products

Institute just transition program for asbestos workers, their families and communities around asbestos plants and products

Join the United Nations in banning the production and export of chrysotile asbestos worldwide

Announce the compensation package for present and future victims of asbestos diseases

Make the asbestos companies criminally liable for knowingly exposing citizens and consumers of asbestos products

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

Take cognisance of the order of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India dated January 21, 2011

Take note of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha and the order of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission dated 31st January 2009 banning the use of asbestos in schools and hospitals

Consider the deliberations of the International Conference on "Emerging Trends in Preventing Occupational Respiratory Diseases and Cancers in Workplace" at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi in March 2011 following which New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including Chrysotile from India on 24 March, 2011

Take note of the fact that 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

Recall that the World Health Organisation's latest estimate notes that asbestos already claims 107,000 lives a year. Even that conservative estimate means every five minutes around the clock a person dies of asbestos related disease. The ongoing use of the asbestos fibre kills at least 300 people every day

Respect the scientific process of the Rotterdam Convention and approve the recommendations of the Chemical Review Committee to list chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of hazardous substances

Recall the verdict even by the World Trade Organization (WTO) which validated the rights of Member States to prohibit the import and use of goods which contain carcinogenic substances such as chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos). On March 12, 2001 the WTO's Appellate Body (AB) issued its ruling in the case of Canada vs. the European Communities Measures Affecting Asbestos and Asbestos-Containing Products

Refer to World Bank's Asbestos Good Practice Guidelines. These Guidelines, as well as its earlier Environmental, Health & Safety General Guidelines, require that the use of asbestos must be avoided in new construction in projects funded by the World Bank around the world. The Guidelines also provide information on available safer alternatives to asbestos.

It brings discredit to the scientific temper of India as a nation that it has failed to factor in the fact that asbestos is banned in 55 countries, including the European Union and Japan in its policy making. India is the largest importer of asbestos, according to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database. Most of it goes into making corrugated roofing sheets as building material.

In such a backdrop, it is germane to ask why is Ministry of Chemicals Government of India still a leading importer of chrysotile asbestos?

I submit that Canadian government which exports chrysotile asbestos to India has removed it from Canadian Parliament and its Prime Minister's Home.

As you are aware India has technically banned mining of asbestos (including chrysotile) but allows import, manufacture and use of asbestos based products which are proven to be deadly! May I ask: Is it rational?

The UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is an important tool to protect human health and the environment by controlling trade in hazardous chemicals and pesticides that meet the requirements of the Convention.

The Chemical Review Committee plays a critical role by ensuring that the review mechanism of the Convention is used objectively and that science is the cornerstone of the review process. If the recommendations of the Chemical Review Committee are obstructed (which India has done since 2004), the Convention will fail in achieving its mandate. Instead of being based on science, public health decisions will be based on political expediency.

It is indeed unbecoming of a small number of Parties to the UN agreement (like Government of India), who have been misguided by commercial interest of chrysotile asbestos companies to the Convention hostage by refusing to cooperate with the scientific process of the Convention and the will of the overwhelming majority or Parties.

It does not behove the stature of Government of India to wield a veto over the Convention against the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance and deny itself the sovereign right to utilize the prior informed consent procedure. When a hazardous substance is listed under Annex III of the Convention, Parties like Government of India has the sovereign right to utilize the procedure.

It is an act of immorality of Government of Canada to have prevailed upon Government of India to obstruct the recommendation of the Chemical Review Committee regarding chrysotile asbestos to protect the blind lust for commercial profit at the cost of the health of Indian citizens and workers.

It is quite sad that Government of Canada has misinformed and misguided Government of India to deny itself the right to control its own

borders from hazardous substances under the manifest influence of chrysotile asbestos companies.

The Rotterdam Convention is based on the principle of environmental justice. It has been witnessed that increasingly, hazardous chemicals and pesticides that are banned or severely restricted in industrialized countries are being shipped to developing countries or countries with economies in transition, where resources to safely monitor and manage these dangerous substances are often lacking or nonexistent.

The Rotterdam Convention addresses this inequality in exposure to environmental and human risk by empowering countries with the right to Prior Informed Consent. All Parties to the Convention have a legal and moral obligation to support the right to Prior Informed Consent in the Convention as an important tool for overcoming the widening gap.

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

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

It is also noteworthy that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) too has passed an order in Case No:693/30/97-98 recommending that the asbestos sheets roofing be replaced with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful. The Annual Report of NHRC 2003-2004 refers to a Report entitled "Asbestos – Health and Environment – an in-depth Study "submitted by the Institute of Public Health Engineers, India. The study underlines that safe and controlled use of asbestos is not possible.

You will agree that human biology is same everywhere if the asbestos is deemed hazardous in the developed countries, it must be deemed so in India too.

In view of the above, it is your solemn duty to protect Indian citizens from the the exposure of fibers of chrysotile asbestos. In pursuance of the same as a first step there is a compelling reason for Chemicals Ministry, Government of India to support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure list of hazardous materials at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade in Geneva.

I will be happy to meet and share additional information.

Your Sincerely

Gopal Krishna

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

New Delhi

Mb: 9818089660

E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, toxicswatchalliance@gmail.com

Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Web: www.toxicswatch.com

 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

EU Call for Sanctions on Canada

European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW)

The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS)

Press Release June 29, 2011

EU Call for Sanctions on Canada
Brussels, Belgium: Calls will be made on June 30, 2011 that the European Union (EU) take sanctions against Canada for derailing a United Nations protocol to protect vulnerable populations from the hazards of asbestos.

Last week, the Canadian delegation to the Rotterdam Convention meeting in Geneva single-handedly derailed a long-standing attempt to include chrysotile asbestos on the Convention’s prior informed consent list despite support for this listing from 142 out of 143 Parties to the Convention (listing can only be proceed if there is 100% unanimity).

The duplicitous and underhanded behaviour of the Canadian representatives attracted widespread condemnation from delegates in Geneva as well as international campaigners, eminent scientific and medical professionals and ordinary Canadians.
IBAS Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen, a member of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance, maintained a minute by minute watch on developments from her London base. In her presentation to the European Parliament’s seminar: “Asbestos – Still a Killer,”[1] she will detail the latest moves by global asbestos thugs to deny developing countries the right to know the hazards of the asbestos they are importing.

Commenting on recent developments, Ms. Kazan-Allen said:

“I have been studying the global asbestos industry for over 20 years. In that time, I have witnessed political dishonesty, industrial thuggery, corporate malfeasance, judicial manipulation, the misuse of science, the abuse of the legal process, physical and professional intimidation. What we saw last week in Geneva, transcended this – it was pure evil. Canada is now a rogue state and should be dealt with in the same way as other administrations which have breached the acceptable level of behaviour expected of civilized societies.

Canadian Government documents I am bringing to Brussels will prove to MEPs that Ottawa had received recommendations from its own advisors to list chrysotile under the Rotterdam Convention. That they chose not to do so with the full knowledge of the tragic consequences is a sin of unpardonable proportions.”
_________________________________________________________

Notes to editors
The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat has been campaigning since 1999 to achieve justice for all asbestos victims and a global ban on asbestos. Publications, articles and recommended links can be accessed on the IBAS website: www.ibasecretariat.org Coordinator Laurie Kazan-Allen can be reached by email at: lka@btinternet.com or by phone at: +44 (0) 776 66 45 880.

Rolf Gehring, Secretary for Health & Safety of the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), co-organisers of this event, can be reached at: +32 478 84 0660. EFBWW is running the campaign: “Europe 2023 – Asbestos Free” – see also: http://www.efbww.org
The Rotterdam Convention is a multilateral United Nations protocol under which vulnerable populations are provided a modicum of protection from dangerous substances. When a consensus has been achieved regarding the hazardous nature of a designated chemical or pesticide, that substance is included on the prior informed consent list of the Convention. This listing is not a ban; it is however a requirement that exporting nations provide documentation on the nature of the substance so that importers can make informed decisions as to whether or not they are capable of using it safely.

Information on last week’s developments in Geneva can be accessed on the IBAS website: www.ibasecretariat.org or at the website of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin: http://www.iisd.ca/chemical/pic/cop5/
For additional information contact:EFBWW, Rolf Gehring, Ph: +32 (0)2 227 10 40/43 Email: rgehring@efbh.be
IBAS, Laurie Kazan-Allen, Ph: +44 (0)208 95 83 887, Email: lka@btinternet.com

[1] This seminar is being organized by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament in collaboration with trade unions and non-governmental organizations. It takes place on 30 June 2011 from 14.30 to 17.30, Room ASP A3G-2 European Parliament.

For more information on this event, please contact Sonia at: sonia.chapotel@europarl.europa.eu or Anne at acocquyt@efbh.be

Friday, June 24, 2011

UN Meet Proves Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association Wrong

Press Statement

UN Meet Proves Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association Wrong

BANI Appeals to HIL to Shift to Non-Asbestos Green Building Materials

Work of Indian Govt Officials at UN Chemicals Meet Appreciated


25/6/2011New Delhi: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) wishes to place on record its appreciation of the role of the Government of India representatives in the Indian delegation at the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade held in Geneva, Switzerland concluded on 24th.

The meeting which commenced on 20th June dealt will be remembered for Government of India's support for the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention, the PIC list of industrial chemicals. Declaration on Chrysotile Asbestos given below.

The Government of India representatives in the delegation in Geneva, Switzerland are the following:

1. Ms. Mira Mehrishi
Additional Secretary
Ministry of Environment and Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex
Lodhi Road
New Delhi 110003
Tel.: +91 (11) 2436 2285
Fax: +91 (11) 2436 3918
Email: mmehrishi@nic.in

2. Mr. Manoranjan Hota
Director
Hazardous Substances Management Division
Ministry of Environment and Forests
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi 110003
Tel.: +91 (11) 2436 7663
Fax: +91 (11) 2436 7663
Email: hota@nic.in

3. Mr. Sanjay Bansal
Director
Department of Chemicals and Petro-Chemicals
Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers
Room No. 230, A-Block
Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi 110001
Tel.: +91 (98) 1051 9226
Fax: +91 (11) 2338 8628
Email: sanjay.bansal@nic.in

4. Ms. Jyoti Singhal
Under Secretary
Department of Agriculture and Cooperation
Room n° 478-A
Krisho Bhavan
New Delhi 110114
Tel.: +91 (11) 2338 7962
Fax: +91 (11) 2338 7962
Email: j.singhal@nic.in

BANI salutes the work of these members in safeguarding national interest in Geneva. BANI also applauds the role of Rotterdam Convention Alliance in highlighting the public health concerns.

BANI expresses its sadness and dismay at the presence of chrysotile asbestos industry representatives at the CoP 5 in Geneva, Switzerland who are resisting the ban on chrysotile asbestos trade although its mining is banned in India. These representatives include:

1. ASBESTOS CEMENT PRODUCTS MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION
Mr. Manohar Lal
Director General
Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers'
Association
502, Mansrovar, 90 Nehru Place
New Delhi 110019
Tel.: +91 (11) 4105 5427
Fax: +91 (11) 4652 1496
Email: lalmanohar2007@hotmail.com /
acpma@sify.com

2. ASBESTOS INFORMATION CENTRE
Mr. Abhaya Shankar
Chairman
Asbestos Information Centre
502 Mansarovar, 90 Nehru Place
New Delhi 110019
Tel.: +91 (40) 2370 1872
Fax: +91 (11) 2370 0601
Email: abhaya@hil.in

The UN List of participants is attached.

BANI underlines that both ASBESTOS CEMENT PRODUCTS MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION and
ASBESTOS INFORMATION CENTRE are one and the same organisation and they operate from the same premises. Their primary task is to propagate misinformation about safe and controlled use of chrysotile asbestos. COP5 has proven that their propaganda will not succeed. In a display of manifest unethical practice, while they operate as NGOs which are meant to be non-profit groups, these two groups act to protect the profit of chrysotile asbestos based companies at any cost.

BANI has disclosed that Abhaya Shankar who represented ASBESTOS INFORMATION CENTRE at COP5 is the Managing Director of Hyderabad Industries Limited (HIL), a CK Birla group company engaged in the production of asbestos cement products.

Instead of abandoning asbestos based projects despite indisputable evidence against the lung cancer causing chrysotile asbestos, HIL, one of the largest producers of asbestos cement sheets in the world has embarked on a Rs 100-crore expansion plan and it is in the process of adding another asbestos sheets production line at its Satharia plant, located 40 kms from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh involving an investment of Rs 50 crore with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes per annum taking its total installed capacity to 1 million tonnes per annum. The company has plans of a chrysotile asbestos based manufacturing facility at a cost of Rs 50 crore in Kumarbagh, West Champaran, Bihar in an agricultural field. BANI has visited its plant site which is facing opposition of the farmers.

HIL is currently a leader in asbestos sheets production in the country with a share of 21 per cent in the Rs 3,000-crore market. In 2009-10, its turnover and net profit stood at Rs 756 crore and Rs 89.7 crore respectively.

Its brand Charminar is in the market for over six decades. The company's target was to cross a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore three years down the line. At present, HIL has 12 manufacturing plants spread across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, UP, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. The company has taken over of a fiber cement sheets manufacturing facility situated at Saidpura, Dora Bassi, Punjab, with a capacity of 45,000 MT/Annum.

BANI encourages HIL to go for non-asbestos based green building products now that it has learnt about hazardous effects of chrysotile asbestos at COP5 in Geneva. HIL should pay heed to the resolutions of International Labour Organisation and World Organisation referred to in the Supreme Court order, issued on January 21, 2011 seeking elimination of future use of asbestos based products. The Court too cognisance of the Ban White Asbestos Bill pending in the Parliament.

BANI demands that HIL should abandon its plans to set up new chrysotile asbestos plants in Bihar, UP, Punjab or anywhere in the country taking cognisance of the reiteration of the hazardous nature of chrysotile asbestos fibers. The decision of the Government of India with regard to chrysotile asbestos marks the beginning of the end of the asbestos industry in India.

BANI underlines that Sanjaya Kanoria, Chairman of the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association (ACPMA) is the Managing Director, A Infrastructure Ltd which has proposed to set up a asbestos based plant in Madhubani, Bihar. BANI wonders about the name "A INFRASTRUCTURE", does substituting the alphabet "A" in place of "Asbestos" make it less hazardous and a non-carcinogen?

BANI notes that ACPMA Director General who was at COP5 is a retired IAS officer of 1977 batch, Rajasthan cadre. He was Joint Secretary and Director General Labour Welfare in the Ministry of Labour, Government of India. BANI wonders as to what would be the outcome of the labour welfare done for asbestos workers during his tenure. He is also President of an NGO named Assist workers engaged in welfare of unorganized sector workers. Do both these NGOs ACPMA and Assist workers work to protect asbestos workers who suffer from incurable and fatal diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma?

It is about time Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association advised its members to shift to manufacturing of non-Asbestos Green Building materials because no amount of advertisements, advertorials and public relations exercise can stop an idea whose time has come.

Study after study has linked the killer fibers of chrysotile asbestos to lung disease but Canadian government which got rid of asbestos fibers from its Parliament Buildings and its Prime Minister's residence, is acting at the behest of the asbestos companies to resist putting warning labels on asbestos products and is suppressing findings of research. Although UN Conference ended without chrysotile asbestos being listed. The recommendation to list chrysotile asbestos will be put forward at the next Conference of the Parties in 2013, Indian government has taken a public interest position and has disassociated itself from Canadian government which blocked its listing.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480 E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com,
Web: www.toxicswatch.com


Declaration on Chrysotile Asbestos

Recognizing the achievement in adding the hazardous chemicals aldicarb, alachlor and endosulfan to the Rotterdam Convention;

Recalling that decision RC-3/3 of the third Conference of the Parties, adopted by consensus, found that the criteria for listing chrysotile asbestos in Annex III were met;

Deeply concerned that the listing of chrysotile asbestos nonetheless has been prevented by a small number of Parties for three consecutive Conferences of the Parties;

Noting that the reasons put forward for preventing listing by consensus were not relevant to the criteria of the convention;

Encouraged by the willingness of some Parties to reconsider their position and support the listing;

We undersigned:

Call upon all Parties to hold paramount the protection of human health and the environment;

Resolve to move forward to list chrysotile asbestos in Annex III and improve the effectiveness of the Convention in listing chemicals in the future;

Declare our intent to pursue further action under the Convention to ensure that the export of hazardous chemicals occurs only with the prior informed consent of the importing Party and that the Party is provided with accurate information on the characteristics, potential dangers, safe handling and use of those chemicals.

Signatories

• The African Group (Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote
d´Ivoire, Djibuti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya,
Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa,
Sudan, Togo and Zambia)

• Argentina

• Australia

• Chile

• Colombia

• The European Union and its member states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom)

• Jamaica

• Japan

• Jordan

• New Zealand

• Norway

• Panama

• Peru

• Switzerland

• Uruguay

• Venezuela

THE CANCER CULPRIT AWARDS

Two awards given out for June 23rd, 2011 (second for Canada) by ROCA

Canada, now a 2x winner, for attempting to answer questions in the most evasive manner possible. The delegation stated the reason for opposing the listing is that they can manage it safely. They could not say that it is a purely political reason. At the same time, Canada stated that the recommendation of the scientific Chemical Review Committee was adequate and all criteria are met. “We think that the CRC DGD document was appropriate and the criteria was met. Canada is not in a position to support the listing.” Supporting the CRC document (scientific review) while not being able to support the listing, suggests some political reason, not scientific.

Brazil, for not having any position on the listing of chrysotile asbestos, although they are the third biggest producer and exporter of the world. Brazil could have taken the lead on producing countries to go for listing, but for many years the Brazilian ministries have continued to discuss their position, with little progress. It is important for Brazilian citizens to know where their country stands, and the responsibility that comes with being a major exporter.

A Conference Champion Award is also given today, to the African Region:

African Region, for making outstanding statements. They were pushing the Canadian delegates to reveal the reason for opposing the listing, not letting them get away with repeating meaningless answers. And also for their constant demand that the convention should not be undermined for economic or political reasons, for the sake of the protection of the health of people in their countries.

Asbestos's last, lonely champion

I still remember the shock and dismay I felt walking through the ByWard Market in 2005, when I noticed newspaper headlines announcing that Chuck Strahl had been diagnosed with a deadly form of asbestos-related cancer.

Not only was Strahl fit and strong (fortunately, he still is), he was a well-liked Reform, then Conservative, MP and, subsequently, a successful cabinet minister in a number of posts. He decided not to run in the last election - his son Mark took over his B.C. seat on May 2 - and has returned to Chilliwack, his cancer apparently in remission.

This memory makes Prime Minister Stephen Harper's adamant support for Quebec's asbestos industry in recent weeks seem even more confounding and cold. After all, within his own cabinet he had sobering evidence of the cost of unprotected exposure to asbestos.

Strahl was exposed to the carcinogen as a young man operating huge logging vehicles with asbestos-clad brakes in the B.C. interior. In those days, he recounts, wearing protective gear was considered insufficiently macho and the dangers of breathing in asbestos fibre not as well known.

Decades later he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that usually kills its victims within a few years - a shocking prognosis for a regular jogger and non-smoker. With the help of his family and strong Christian faith, however, Strahl beat the odds and played an active role in cabinet until his retirement.

Throughout his ordeal, he never wanted to be a poster boy for asbestos-related cancer or mount, as he wrote this week, "a personal crusade." Nor does he favour an outright ban, even today.

However, he issued a cautious advisory to his old government this week, calling it "logical and right" to add chrysotile asbestos to a UN list of substances that need to be handled with care.

But at an international meeting of the so-called Rotterdam Convention in Switzerland, Canada publicly - even defiantly - refused to add asbestos to the list. Because the convention relies on consensus, there will be no warning to the mostly developing countries who still import our asbestos (primarily to make concrete.)

The Canadian delegation was undoubtedly acting on instructions from the prime minister - and over growing objections both inside and outside government. With India (which imports a lot of Quebec asbestos) and Ukraine withdrawing objections, Canada is left in the embarrassing company of Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in defending a product so dangerous it is being carefully removed from 24 Sussex and the Parliament buildings.

And all to defend fewer than 400 jobs in Quebec.

Harper made it clear on a campaign stop in Asbestos, site of Canada's last active mine, that he wasn't going to interfere in the sale of a legal product. As he put it: "This government will not put Canadian industry in a position where it is discriminated against in a market where sale is permitted."

This is both libertarian gospel and political calculation. Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who comes from Thetford Mines, has long insisted chrysotile asbestos can be safely used "in controlled circumstances."

This claim has been roundly rejected by medical and scientific experts, including Peter Goodhand of the Canadian Cancer Society, who insists "all forms of asbestos, including the chrysotile asbestos mined in Quebec, cause cancer."

As for "controlled" environments, there is ample evidence developing countries, like India, pay no heed to safety, and that Indian workers, like the young Chuck Strahl, are being directly compromised. But Harper seems to imply it isn't our concern.

His indifference is strangely at odds with his moral, even moralistic, approach to foreign policy generally. He famously refused to remain silent on China's human rights abuses despite potential trade repercussions, yet is prepared to isolate Canada internationally to prop up a dying industry.

This may have something to do with Premier Jean Charest's promise of a $58 million loan guarantee to the industry to restart the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos - an offer dependent on the mine's backers rounding up $25 million by July 1. Further international restrictions on exports - even in the form of safety warnings - could make raising the money more challenging.

For 30 years, provincial and federal governments of all stripes have supported asbestos mining for fear of losing seats in Quebec. But the recent NDP sweep in that province suggests the tide is turning, given that party's forthright opposition to the industry.

Two Conservative MPs - Mark Warawa and Patricia Davidson - have also been discreetly questioning asbestos exports, which suggests the Harper decision isn't resting easily on every Conservative conscience. Even federal Liberals are belatedly opposed.

Unlike the seal hunt, which harms no one but the seals, or the tarsands, which are environmentally damaging but economically important, there is no justification - moral, political or economic - for continued federal support for the asbestos industry.

But we should never discount one man's stubbornness.

By Susan Riley,
Ottawa Citizen
June 24, 2011

Susan Riley writes on national politics. E-mail: sriley.work@gmail.com.

Canada's asbestos habit: Defending death

PUTTING money ahead of lives, the federal government has again blackened this country’s name around the world by leading efforts aimed at suppressing warnings about the documented health risks of asbestos, a known carcinogen. At a United Nations summit in Switzerland this week, Canada and three other countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam — voted against listing chrysotile, or white, asbestos in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention on hazardous materials.

That listing would have compelled asbestos producers in countries such as Canada to warn importing nations of the health risks associated with the cancer-causing substance, permitting those states to block those imports. Because changes to the global agreement must be by consensus, Canada’s opposition, as it has many times in the past, killed the hopes of asbestos opponents to at least bring informed consent into the global asbestos trade.

The Conservative government’s argument that asbestos, safely handled, poses no danger to those using the deadly material reflects unconscionable hypocrisy.

Many health organizations and medical experts reject the notion that asbestos can be safely handled. Even if you accept that concept, however, Conservative politicians surely know that foreign workers in many large asbestos-importing countries, such as India where it’s used to make cement, often handle the material without adequate, if any, safety precautions.

Many Quebec provincial politicians, who also support the asbestos trade, as well as the industry itself, are equally guilty of putting economic interests ahead of any concern for human lives.

Canada’s staking of its banner on the side of ignorance and death this week is all the more shameful considering that two other long-time opponents of listing asbestos in Annex III, India and Ukraine, changed positions this year and supported its inclusion.

Heightening the hypocrisy of this country’s position is that asbestos is largely banned from use in Canada. Imagine, here in one of the most developed nations on Earth, where, one would think, the "safe handling" of white asbestos that Conservatives blithely champion must surely be possible, workers are mostly forbidden to touch the stuff.

For shame.

(edits@herald.ca)

Chronicle Herald, Editorial, Fri, Jun 24
http://thechronicleherald.ca/Editorials/1250025.html

Canada’s Asbestos Stance At UN Denounced

PICS Denounces Canada’s Asbestos Stance At UN

The Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society also condemned the comments of Surrey Conservative MP Nina Grewal, who last week had issued a statement accusing Canadians opposed to exporting asbestos to “third world countries” of having a “colonialist attitude”, because India can speak up for its own citizens. But when India spoke up this week it was Grewal’s own government that was still opposing it as a hazardous substance. (Pic: Nina Grewal)

VANCOUVER – Last week Conservative MP Nina Grewal accused Canadians opposed to exporting asbestos to “third world countries” of having a “colonialist attitude”.

The accusation was made in an email reply to a citizen who had written MP Grewal, urging her to support the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos on a United Nations list of hazardous substances.

“I find it offensive when people in Canada imply that the Indian government is incapable of protecting its own citizens. This colonialist attitude is unbecoming of Canadians.” said Grewal in the email.

However, on Wednesday at the United Nations meeting in Geneva, India supported the listing of Chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance. In response Canada quickly opposed the listing, effectively ruining a near international consensus. Canada is the only G7 country still producing and exporting asbestos.

Canada blocked an attempt by India (and other developing countries)on a world stage to protect their citizens from the dangers of asbestos.

The Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society condemned Grewa]l’s comments in light of India speaking up for its own citizens by declaring that asbestos should be declared a hazardous substance. But when India spoke up this week it was Grewal’s own government that was still opposing it as a hazardous substance.

Based on MP Grewal’s own words, it would now seem that it is in fact the Harper government that has the colonialist attitude. This government’s behaviour in Geneva has been deeply shameful.


Conservative MP calls asbestos Regulation "COLONIALIST"
-Aneil Jaswal
VANCOUVER - June 20, 2011 – Last week, Conservative MP Nina Grewal, accused Canadians opposed to exporting asbestos of a having a “colonialist attitude...unbecoming of Canadians”. The accusation was made in an email reply to a citizen who had written MP Grewal, urging her to support the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos on a United Nations list of hazardous substances. Her reply was quickly forwarded to Aneil Jaswal, a BC based policy consultant on health issues and a passionate asbestos activist.


“MP Grewal’s accusation is a ridiculous attempt to defend a policy which has very serious impacts in countries like India. If this is the Harper government’s reasoning for blocking UN attempts to regulate asbestos, this is worrisome indeed. What is truly unbecoming of Canadians, is that this government continues to pretend that Canada is not responsible for the health impacts of our asbestos” said Jaswal.

The Indian Association of Occupational Health and all the major trade unions in India have directly called on Canada to stop exporting asbestos. This past year in Bihar, India, villagers and youth organized protests to keep an asbestos factory out of their community and faced fire from police as a consequence.

Gopal Krishna, a community leader in India with Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
& Occupational Health India (OHI) had the following to say about MP Grewal’s comments.
“We are disappointed with Nina Grewal's misrepresentation of facts about India. It is an established fact that her fundamental assumptions about the working of the Indian legal and health system is seriously flawed.”

Aneil Jaswal added, “The voice of workers in India is clear: they do not want Canada’s asbestos. It is not handled safely. Asbestos causes cancer in Indians just like it does in Canadians - which is why it is essentially banned in Canada and has been removed from the Prime Minister’s home. Either MP Grewal is ignorant of these Indian voices or she is ignoring them. Both are unacceptable.”

Starting tomorrow, June 20th, the United Nations will be meeting in Geneva to decide whether to include Chrysotile asbestos on a list of hazardous substances. If included, this would not ban the trade of asbestos, but simply ensure “prior informed consent” has been obtained for all export. In 2006, the Canadian government spearheaded efforts to prevent the listing and the Harper government is unlikely to speak out in support of listing asbestos at this conference. Mr. Jaswal is the Director of The Cancer Culprit Awards, a daily award that will be handed out at the UN conference to the countries which most impede negotiations.

Download MP Nina Grewal's Full Email HERE

Read more about the UN vote:
Rotterdam Convention by the Conference of the Parties' Fifth Meeting (COP5)

For more information, please contact:http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
Aneil Jaswal
British Columbia, Canada
Director, Cancer Culprit Awards
+1-250-307-9076
director@cancerculprits.org
www.cancerculprits.org
Gopal Krishna
New Delhi, India
Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480
E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com, krishna1764@rediffmail.com
Blog:banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Source:
http://www.pej.org/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=8822&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

World Condemns Canadian Govt's Support for Hazardous Chrysotile Asbestos

Press Note

World Condemns Canadian Govt's Support for Hazardous Chrysotile Asbestos

BANI Welcomes India's First Step Towards Prohibition of Asbestos at UN Meet


24/6/2011New Delhi/Patna: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) Welcomes India's dramatic change in position at the UN Meet on Hazardous Chemicals in Switzerland unlike Canada, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam who voted against listing chrysotile asbestos or white asbestos in Annexure III of the Rotterdam Convention on hazardous materials.The list makes it legally compulsory for asbestos producing countries to warn importing countries of the health risks associated with the cancer-causing chemical. Indian Government reversed its past opposition to its listing.

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade underway in Geneva, Switzerland concludes today. The meeting which commenced on 20th June dealt with the possible inclusion of four new chemicals including Endosulfan and Chrysotile Asbestos in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention.

Meanwhile, international unions and Indo-Canadian Community has denounced Canadian Government's support for Chrysotile Asbestos based companies at COP5. Environmental groups in India have severely criticized the irresponsible act of Canadian government to adopt a colonial attitude of criminal callousness in the matter of incurable diseases caused by Canadian asbestos mined in Quebec and traded world wide. BANI deprecates the stand of Canadian Government which is akin to supporting slow poisoning of citizens in India and elsewhere.

On 22nd June, 2011 Indian Government supported the listing of Chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical substance while Canada opposed it. India ratified the Convention on 24th May 2005. The act of becoming a Party to the Convention does not in itself obligate other Parties to ensure that there are no exports of the chemicals listed in Annex III to your country. To guarantee this, the Parties needs to provide the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention with Importing Country Response for each of the chemicals listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention stating that no consent for each one.

The Convention aims to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm. It also contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.

The 46 page current text of the Rotterdam Convention includes the amendments adopted by the First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Geneva, 20 - 24 September 2004) and the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Rome, 27 – 31 October 2008). The Convention promotes the exchange of information on a very broad range of chemicals. The text of the Rotterdam Convention was adopted on 10 September 1998 by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The Convention entered into force on 24 February 2004.

BANI observes that the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III list of chemicals is not an invitation for Indian Government to ban their use. The purpose of the prior informed consent procedure is to allow India to make their own informed decisions on future imports of the chemical depending on their own needs, circumstances and uses of the chemical. However, if Indian Government decides not to allow any future import of chrysotile asbestos, then it must also ensure that any domestic manufacture and use of the chemical is banned.

In view of such requirements, BANI demands that Government of India should ban the domestic manufacture and use of the chrysotile asbestos along with its import after its support for listing of this lethal mineral fiber in the UN list of Hazardous Industrial Chemicals. This decision alone can take Indian Government's decision to its logical end.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 9818089660,E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com,Web: www.toxicswatch.com

S.C. Gupta, Indian Designated National Authority - Industrial Chemicals, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Phone: +91 11 23383756, Telefax: +91 11 23070104, Email:saagupta@rediffmail.com

Rajiv Gauba, Official Contact Point, Joint Secretary (HSM Division), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Phone:+91 11 2436 0634, Telefax +91 11 2436 3577, Email:r.gauba@nic.in

Dr. Manoranjan Hota, Official Contact Point,Director (HSM Division), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Phone:+91 11 2436 7663, Telefax: +91 11 2436 7663, E-mail: hota@nic.in

Website of the Rotterdam Convention: http://www.pic.int/

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quebec & Canada Condemned for Support of Chrysotile Asbestos Industry at UN Meet

Press Release

Quebec & Canada Condemned for Support of Chrysotile Asbestos Industry at UN Meet

Indian Government Paves Way for Ban on Chrysotile Asbestos, terms it Hazardous Chemical

Rotterdam Alliance, Calls Canada, Cancer Culprit, a Pariah State

Is Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Listening?


New Delhi/Patna: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) Condemns Quebec and Canadian Government’s anti-public health, anti-environment and anti-worker stance in the matter of list of Chrysotile Asbestos as a hazardous chemical. BANI appreciates Government of India for taking this long delayed step to join the international consensus against chrysotile asbestos. In a statement, Rotterdam Alliance states that the industry prefers that people are not given the information that chrysotile asbestos is hazardous.

Chrysotile (serpentine forms of asbestos) is being proposed to be included in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure as an industrial chemical at the UN's fifth meeting of Rotterdam Convention on the PIC Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade in the conference. Its listing is based on the final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict its use due to its impacts on health as notified by Australia, Chile and the European Union.

Amidst growing incessant demand for ban on trade, manufacture and use of chrysotile asbestos, Government of India’s delegation in Geneva, Switzerland announced that they had reconsidered their opposition and would support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the UN list of hazardous chemicals.

BANI, an alliance of public health researchers, human rights and labour groups welcome Government of India’s support the inclusion of Chrysotile (white) asbestos in Annex III (PIC list).

It is indeed a dramatic breakthrough that would pave the way for ending the deadlock over the inclusion of Chrysotile Asbestos in the PIC list and eventually for complete ban on the killer fibers. Approximately 50, 000 people die every year in India due to asbestos related cancer. But so far Government of India has failed to take a pro-people’s health position and a scientific stand on the import of chrysotile asbestos whose mining is technically banned in India.

The Chemical Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention has recommended inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos twice. It is now being considered for the third time. Under the negative influence of Canada and other chrysotile asbestos producing countries, Government of India has been blocking its inclusion citing industry sponsored studies since 2004. So far it has been according priority to the profit of chrysotile asbestos companies instead of protecting environmental and occupational health.

Indian delegation also agreed to chair a small group to continue discussions with
opponents to listing about their specific concerns. Canada has confirmed that it would not join any consensus on listing chrysotile asbestos.

A small drafting group was formed to draft an accompanying decision to one listing chrysotile asbestos in Annex III, to request parties and all other stakeholders to promote information exchange on measures to minimize risks and on alternative substances in order to facilitate potential agreement. When the small drafting group announced no consensus had been reached on listing chrysotile asbestos, decision was deferred at least till the conclusion of the COP5 on 24th June. BANI hopes that the delegates at COP5 will be able to persuade Canada to change its position before the meeting concludes.

Under the theme “Rotterdam COP5: PICturing Chemical Safety, PICturing Informed Decisions”, the conference is considering measures to strengthen implementation of the globe’s first line of defence for chemical safety.

The Rotterdam Convention entered into force in 2004. It built on the voluntary Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, procedure, initiated by UNEP and FAO in 1989, which gave way to the formalities of the Convention. The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004 and makes the PIC Procedure legally binding.

In order for COP5 to be deemed successful, it is very important that chrysotile asbestos is listed on Annex III of the convention. If that happens, "Prior Informed Consent" will become mandatory before chrysotile asbestos producing countries such as Canada and Russia can export this killer mineral fiber.

Environmental groups like BANI have been making incessant demand for the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in UN List of Hazardous Chemicals List. India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has admitted an application and registered a case with regard to the phase out of the chrysotile asbestos based industries and its listing as a hazardous chemical, a fact which has wrongly been disputed by Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi. The UN Meet on Hazardous Chemicals vindicates BANI’s position which has been demanding closure of chrysotile asbestos based plants in Bhojpur, Vaisahali and Muzaffarpur.

Indian states like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and others where new chrysotile asbestos based plants are proposed will now have to abandon their plans.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 9818089660,
E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com,
Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Canada opposing prior informed consent on cancer causing substance, chrysotile asbestos

Canada’s position at international meeting unveiled:

CELA disappointed in Canada opposing prior informed consent on cancer causing substance, chrysotile asbestos


June 22, 2011

Immediate release

Toronto – Canada’s decision to oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, under the Rotterdam Convention at the meeting of the Parties in Geneva this week drew strong negative reaction today from the Canadian Environmental Law Association. Canada maintains its opposition to listing the substance despite repeated recommendations by the Rotterdam Convention’s expert committee to list chrysotile asbestos. CELA has repeatedly called on the Canadian government to support adding the substance to the Convention’s list of substances which require prior notification of their toxicity before export or importing.

On the third day of negotiations, Canada’s position to oppose the listing of chrysotile under the Rotterdam Convention has finally been revealed. In the lead up to today’s session, Canada had been silent on its position as to whether or not chrysotile asbestos should be listed under the Convention, leaving other exporting countries, such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to voice their opposition to listing. Canada’s continued opposition was revealed shortly after several countries, including India and Ukraine, expressed their support for listing. The position taken by India is the first signal of a change in position by a country that has opposed listing of chrysotile at previous meetings of Rotterdam. Other exporting countries, such as Brazil, have also been silent. Canada’s refusal to change its position and support listing is very disappointing to CELA and many others who have been working to ensure that it is included under the Convention.

“Canada’s explicit opposition at this point in the negotiations to listing the deadly carcinogen chrysotile asbestos is a sad moment for the international community negotiating for better protection of workers and people,” states Fe de Leon, Researcher at the Canadian Environmental Law Association. “However, with two days left in the negotiations, we hope Canada’s position will still take a dramatic shift as we saw today in the case of India. Without an international obligation to share information on the hazards of this chemical, workers, their family members and communities in countries that receive this material will continue to be damaged from on-going mining, exporting and importing of chrysotile asbestos for decades to come.”

The listing to Annex III of the Convention triggers requirements to exchange information on the toxicity of hazardous substances between countries and establishes a mechanism for countries to refuse entry of hazard substances for the protection of people.

The lead up to the negotiations on the Rotterdam Convention has been blanketed with secrecy from the Canadian government on its position to list chrysotile asbestos. Letters to the Canadian government from organizations and individuals within Canada and worldwide expressed the need to support listing of chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention because of the health impacts associated with this substance.

“Canada’s position at these meetings undermines the cornerstone of the Rotterdam Convention to exchange information and seek prior informed consent between countries before importing and exporting these substances” states de Leon. “Canada has radically reduced the use of this substance in Canada and it is treated as a hazardous substance here, but Canada continues to market it to unsuspecting countries. These countries will not have the ability to keep their people safe from exposure to chrysotile asbestos unless there is an international commitment to exchange critical information on these substances.”

-30-

Contact information:
Fe de Leon, Researcher, 416-960-2284 ext. 223
Fe de Leon,
Researcher,
Canadian Environmental Law Association,
130 Spadina Ave., Ste. 301,
Toronto, ON M5V 2L4
Tel.: 416-960-2284 ext. 223,
Fax: 416-960-9392,
E-mail: deleonf@cela.ca

Visit our web sites:
on CELA at www.cela.ca
on our Resource Library at www.ecolawinfo.org
on Pollution at www.PollutionWatch.org
on Source Water Protection at www.thewaterhole.ca
on Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment at
www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca

Canada moves to block listing of asbestos as 'hazardous'

Canada told the world Wednesday it opposes placing limits on the export of chrysotile asbestos — a "bombshell" expected to derail international efforts to list the mineral as hazardous.

The head of the Canadian delegation at a United Nations summit in Geneva made the statement late Wednesday after a consensus was emerging to label the known carcinogen mined in Quebec as hazardous.

If chrysotile asbestos is listed on Annex III of the United Nations' Rotterdam Convention, "Prior Informed Consent" would be required before countries could export the mineral. After being informed of the hazards, developing countries that import asbestos could refuse to accept the potentially cancer-causing material if they believe they could not handle it safely.

Until Wednesday's declaration, the Canadian delegation had remained silent — fuelling speculation from anti-asbestos campaigners that Canada was letting a handful of other countries do its "dirty work."

The stunning development — confirmed by the UN Environment Program and characterized by the Montreal-based Chrysotile Institute as a "bombshell" — appeared to contradict statements made by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver just a day earlier, when he told reporters in Ottawa that the question of Canada's position was "moot" because four other countries — Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine — had already spoken up against the listing.

Under convention protocol, unless consensus among countries is achieved, chrysotile asbestos remains off Annex III. The UN meeting ends Friday.

When pressed by reporters about the possibility of a consensus emerging in the face of Canada's silence, Oliver also suggested Tuesday that the federal government would accept the listing. "If they want it to be listed, then it will be listed," he said.

But on Wednesday, India, a major importer of Quebec asbestos, announced it would support the listing after remaining quiet.

As with Canada at past meetings, India either opposed the listing or remained silent, despite a long-standing recommendation of the convention's expert scientific committee that chrysotile asbestos, already banned in many countries, be placed on the list.

Then, Ukraine indicated it could accept the hazardous listing.

Following this development, the head of the Canadian delegation, David Sproule of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, intervened to pronounce Canada's objection.

Madhu Dutta, an anti-asbestos campaigner from India who is in Geneva to observe the UN proceedings, said Canada's manoeuvre on Wednesday was outrageous.

"Canada was hiding behind the smokescreen of dissenting voices of smaller exporting countries and a 'non-consensus' excuse, but when it sensed that there might be a consensus and chrysotile will be listed, it broke its sinister silence and said no," Dutta told Postmedia News from Geneva.

Guy Versailles, a spokesman for the Chrysotile Institute who is also attending the UN summit, also said it looked like Canada broke its silence only after it appeared a consensus was emerging.

Versailles called Ukraine and its partner, Russia, "heavyweights" at the negotiation table that "could carry the day, but I'm not sure Vietnam could have.

"So when they reversed their position, or were appearing to reverse their position, Canada spoke up," Versailles told Postmedia News.

The Chrysotile Institute, a government-funded organization that promotes the safe use of chrysotile asbestos, opposes the listing of the mineral on Annex III.

Versailles said the listing would likely result in a de facto ban of exports of chrysotile asbestos, which is now exported to developing countries after the Western countries shut their borders to the mineral a generation ago.

Between 1979 and 1984, a worldwide recession and a growing scientific consensus linking asbestos exposure to cancer led to a dramatic reduction in industry revenues — to $400 million a year from about $800 million — and a drop in Canadian jobs to 4,000 from about 8,000.

Today, there are between 450 and 500 asbestos mining jobs left in Quebec, although that number could increase if a planned expansion of the Jeffrey mine proceeds, Versailles said, adding that half of the additional production of the expanded mine is slated to go to India.

"It's Canada's hypocrisy. We were hoping other countries were going to do our dirty work by allowing them to stand in the way of listing asbestos as a dangerous substance, which everyone knows it is. India, in particular, backed away, and Canada was left on the hook, so Canada had to go to the mike and prove the minister a liar," said NDP MP Nathan Cullen.

Oliver released a statement Wednesday offering a different perspective.

"I have been clear that our government promotes the safe and controlled use of chrysotile, both domestically and internationally. Our position at Rotterdam clearly reflects the government's policy of the past 30 years."

By Sarah Schmidt,
June 22, 2011
Vancouver Sun

sschmidt@postmedia.com
twitter.com/sarah_schmidt_

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Canada+opposes+listing+asbestos+hazardous/4987393/story.html

Read more: http://www.canada.com/health/Canada+moves+block+listing+asbestos+hazardous/4987393/story.html#ixzz1Q4DXQeBQ

CANADA USES “SHAMEFUL TACTICS” TO OPPOSE LISTING OF ASBESTOS WINS CANCER CULPRIT AWARD

For Immediate Release
CANADA USES “SHAMEFUL TACTICS” TO OPPOSE LISTING OF ASBESTOS
WINS CANCER CULPRIT AWARD


GENEVA - June 22, 2011

Canada has just been given a Cancer Culprit award for sabotaging the Rotterdam Convention by obstructing the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance.
Of the 143 Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, only five opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos when the issue came before the plenary session yesterday – Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Vietnam. A special contact group was therefore set up to try and resolve the crisis. The group was on the verge of achieving consensus to list chrysotile asbestos, with India and then the Ukraine having reversed their position and now supporting the consensus to list chrysotile asbestos.

At this critical point, on the verge of successful consensus, Canada suddenly announced that “CANADA IS NOT IN THE POSITION OF SUPPORTING THE LISTING OF CHRYSOTILE ASBESTOS IN ANNEX 3, IT IS UNABLE TO DO SO”, thus killing the emerging consensus.

Canada was the only country at the emergency group meeting today who spoke up and refused to accept the basic scientific fact that chrysotile asbestos is hazardous and that users should be informed of its dangers so as to be better able to protect their citizens.

When asked earlier this week whether Canada would support listing asbestos in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said “the question is moot”. While continuing to keep quiet on Canada’s stance, he pointed out that other countries were opposing the listing, and given the consensus procedure of the convention, this would block the listing anyways.

Madhu Dutta from India, who is a member of the ROCA delegation, noted that “all hell broke loose” after the announcement, as countries were shocked by the unscrupulous move.

Soon after, Canada was awarded with a ‘Cancer Culprit Award’ from CancerCulprits.org, a website of environmental and social justice organisations around the world, identifying Canada as acting like a “rogue nation”.
Alexandra Caterbrow, a member of the ROCA (Rotterdam Alliance) delegation, which represents civil society at the conference, was shocked by Canada’s behavior. “These are shameful tactics” remarked Caterbrow. “It is general UN procedure to put your position on the table when the issue is on the agenda – that was yesterday morning. Only when we were about to reach consensus did Canada break its silence”.

Back in Canada, many have expressed their disbelief with the Harper government’s move.

Kathleen Ruff, a Senior Human Rights advisor with the Rideau Institute, exclaimed, “It is beyond belief that the Harper government not only wants to continue exporting asbestos but wants to do so irresponsibly and is refusing this basic right of prior informed consent.” The listing of asbestos does not restrict international trade, but provides controls to ensure that importers have given “prior informed consent” before asbestos is shipped into their country. Ruff continued to say “The government says it supports “controlled use” of asbestos, but in practice, it is the country that is doing the most to hinder any controls in the export of asbestos.”

The issue of listing chrysotile asbestos will come back to the plenary session tomorrow. “All eyes will be on Canada to see if the Canadian government has had a change of heart overnight,” said Ruff.

Read more about the UN vote:Rotterdam Convention by the Conference of the Parties’ Fifth Meeting (COP5).

Canada Cancer Culprit Award: Graphic
For more information, please contact:
Aneil Jaswal
British Columbia, Canada
Director, Cancer Culprit Awards
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NHRC Approached for listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in UN Hazardous Chemicals List

To

Chairman,

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

New Delhi

Date: 15/6/2011

Subject- Reference Complaint No. 41418/15 April, 2010, seeking recommendation listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure list of hazardous materials at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (20 to 24 June, 2011, Geneva)

Sir,

I wish to congratulate you for ensuring that NHRC (India) retained its “A” status in its accreditation with the International Coordinating Committee of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Geneva which it has been holding since 1999 under UN’s “Paris Principles”.

This status has been achieved and maintained because of the pro-active role of NHRC for the protection of human rights causes not only within the country but even in International Conventions as an independent body.

I would, in particular, like to mention the bold and independent stand taken by NHRC in the matter of ban on Endosulfan wherein it urged the Government of India to join the international consensus against it in the UN's Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). This position of NHRC has been deemed quite progressive world over. Endosulfan was banned in most of the countries but Government of India had not taken a pro-public health position on it.

I submit that NHRC’s recommendation in the matter of Preventive Remedial Rehabilitative and Compensation for victims of lung disease-Silicosis. Such steps of NHRC and sensitivity towards environment and pollution related crimes are commendable.

Similar to silicosis, asbestos related diseases are also incurable. Asbestos death toll has surpassed traffic fatalities in Australia. In US, every year 10, 000 people are dying because of asbestos related disease. There is an epidemic of asbestos diseases in Europe. In India, a silent Bhopal disaster is happening every year. The rate of consumption of asbestos in India is rising at an alarming rate due to budgetary support. Nearly all of Indi 's asbestos is mixed with cement to form roofing sheets. Bolstered by asbestos import tariffs that have been reduced from 78% in the mid-1990s to 15% by 2004, the country's asbestos-cement industry is increasing by roughly 10% every year. Since 2003, companies no longer require a special licence to import chrysotile asbestos.

Since 1960, India has incorporated about 7 million tonnes of asbestos into its buildings. The health consequences are already apparent, but the scale of the problem is not clear because there is no documentation of disease caused by environmental and occupational factors. “The Government of India has a very poor, almost non-existent, system to record death and disease”, explains Arthur Frank from Drexel University , Philadelphia , PA , USA who was in New Delhi in March 2011. Besides, cancer is not a notifiable disease. Prof. Frank cited a hospital in Mumbai which sees a dozen cases of mesothelioma every year. Studies have shown high rates of asbestosis among workers in the industry, including in those whose exposure to the material has spanned less than 5 years. There has been no real assessment of [asbestos-related disease] to the point that you can get accurate figures.

Like Endosulfan, several attempts have been made to include chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) on the UN’s prior informed consent list of hazardous chemicals due to non-cooperative role of the Government of India and exporting countries like Canada, the UN Convention has failed to do so.

Chrysotile asbestos is banned in 55 countries, including the European Union and Japan etc. The verdict even by the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Appellate Body (AB) which validated the rights of Member States to prohibit the import and use of goods which contain carcinogenic substances such as chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) is noteworthy. On March 12, 2001 the WTO's Appellate Body (AB) issued its ruling in the case of Canada vs. the European Communities Measures Affecting Asbestos and Asbestos-Containing Products. It noted that safe and controlled use of chrysotile asbestos is impossible.

India is the largest importer of asbestos, according to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database. Most of it goes into making corrugated roofing sheets as building material.

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

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

It is also noteworthy that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) too has passed an order in Case No: 693/30/97-98 recommending that the asbestos sheets roofing be replaced with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful.

I submit that the Annual Report of NHRC 2003-2004 refers to a Report entitled “Asbestos – Health and Environment – an in-depth Study “submitted by the Institute of Public Health Engineers, India. The study underlines that safe and controlled use of asbestos is not possible.

It is relevant to point out that asbestos waste (dust and fibers) has been treated hazardous in all forms and has been banned under Hazardous Wastes Management Rules farmed under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. In our country, approximately 50, 000 people die every year due to asbestos related cancer. But so far Government of India has failed to take a pro-people’s health position and a scientific stand on the import of chrysotile asbestos whose mining is technically banned in India.

I submit that there is a nexus of political class and business class which is not allowing Government of India to take steps to protect human health from the lethal fibers of chrysotile asbestos. It is relevant to note that Kerala State Human Rights Commission has recommended ban on use of asbestos roofs for schools and hospitals.

In this regard, I may point out that NHRC’s urgent attention is required towards the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade to be held in Geneva during June 20-24, 2011 wherein the fate of Endosulfan, Chrysotile asbestos and some other chemicals will be decided for inclusion in the UN list of hazardous chemicals.

Having succeeded in, blocking UN recommendations on, four previous occasions, there is little doubt that, chrysotile asbestos producers will repeat their obstructive, behaviour at the COP-5, Rotterdam Convention held in Geneva. It is high time Government of India is asked to detach itself from the unethical practice of chrysotile asbestos producing countries.

The objective of the Rotterdam Convention “is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm.”

In order to meet its objective, COP5 of Rotterdam Convention will consider the inclusion in Annex III of chrysotile asbestos, Endosulfan and other chemicals under agenda item 5 c.

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

It appears that Government of India has been misled about the toxicity of to chrysotile asbestos. As a consequence, the global public opinion and Indian citizens have begun to consider Indian chrysotile asbestos companies as the main obstacle to the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in the list of UN agreement on hazardous chemicals.

I submit that a just transition program for asbestos workers, their families and communities around asbestos plants and products is urgently required, the NHRC may recommend to Government of India to adopt such a program.

In such a context, I appeal to NHRC to ask Government of India:

• To comply with the resolutions of WHO and ILO (2005 and 2006 seeking elimination of future use of asbestos including chrysotile asbestos worldwide

• To announce the compensation package for present and future victims of asbestos diseases as it has done in the case of Silicosis and make the asbestos companies criminally liable for knowingly exposing citizens and consumers of asbestos products

• To take note of Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ministry's statement in Rajya Sabha saying: "Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma'' on August 18, 2003

• To take cognisance of the order of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India dated January 21, 2011

• To take note of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha and the order of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission dated 31st January 2009 banning the use of asbestos in schools and hospitals

• To consider the deliberations of the International Conference on "Emerging Trends in Preventing Occupational Respiratory Diseases and Cancers in Workplace" at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi in March 2011 following which New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including Chrysotile from India on 24 March, 2011

• To take note of the fact that 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

• To recall that the World Health Organisation's latest estimate notes that asbestos already claims 107,000 lives a year. Even that conservative estimate means every five minutes around the clock a person dies of asbestos related disease. The ongoing use of the asbestos fibre kills at least 300 people every day

• To respect the scientific process of the Rotterdam Convention and approve the recommendations of the Chemical Review Committee to list chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of hazardous substances

• To refer to World Bank's Asbestos Good Practice Guidelines. These Guidelines, as well as its earlier Environmental, Health & Safety General Guidelines, require that the use of asbestos must be avoided in new construction in projects funded by the World Bank around the world. The Guidelines also provide information on available safer alternatives to asbestos.

In such a backdrop, it is germane to ask as to why India still a leading importer of chrysotile asbestos.

It is submitted that Canadian government which exports chrysotile asbestos to India has removed it from Canadian Parliament and its Prime Minister's Home. India has technically banned mining of asbestos (including chrysotile) but allows import, manufacture and use of asbestos based products which are proven to be deadly!

The UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is an important tool to protect human health and the environment by controlling trade in hazardous chemicals and pesticides that meet the requirements of the Convention.

It is indeed unbecoming of a small number of Parties to the UN agreement (like Government of India), who have been misguided by commercial interest of chrysotile asbestos companies to the Convention hostage by refusing to cooperate with the scientific process of the Convention and the will of the overwhelming majority or Parties.

It does not behove the stature of Government of India to wield a veto over the Convention against the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance and deny itself the sovereign right to utilize the prior informed consent procedure. When a hazardous substance is listed under Annex III of the Convention, Parties like Government of India has the sovereign right to utilize the procedure.

It is an act of immorality of Government of Canada to have prevailed upon Government of India to obstruct the recommendation of the Chemical Review Committee regarding chrysotile asbestos to protect the blind lust for commercial profit at the cost of the health of Indian citizens and workers. It is quite sad that Government of Canada has misinformed and misguided Government of India to deny itself the right to control its own borders from hazardous substances under the manifest influence of chrysotile asbestos companies.



The Rotterdam Convention is based on the principle of environmental justice. It has been witnessed that increasingly, hazardous chemicals and pesticides that are banned or severely restricted in industrialized countries are being shipped to developing countries or countries with economies in transition, where resources to safely monitor and manage these dangerous substances are often lacking or non-existent.

The Rotterdam Convention addresses this inequality in exposure to environmental and human risk by empowering countries with the right to Prior Informed Consent. All Parties to the Convention have a legal and moral obligation to support the right to Prior Informed Consent in the Convention as an important tool for overcoming the widening gap.

You will agree that human biology is same everywhere if the asbestos is deemed hazardous in the developed countries; it must be deemed so in India too.

In view of the above, it is your solemn duty of NHRC to protect Indian citizens from the exposure of fibers of chrysotile asbestos. In pursuance of the same as a first step there is a compelling reason for Government of India to support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure list of hazardous materials at the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (20 to 24 June, 2011, Geneva).

All the groups working on human rights, labour rights, health rights and environmental justice will appreciate if NHRC intervenes urgently in the matter of Chrysotile Asbestos as it did in the case of Endosufan.

We will happy to meet and share additional information.

Yours Sincerely

(Gopal Krishna)

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

A 124/6 Ist Floor, Katwaria Sarai

New Delhi Mb: 9818089660

E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, toxicswatchalliance@gmail.com

Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

COP5 DAY ONE

Jim Willis, Joint Executive Secretary of the Basel, Stockholm, and Rotterdam Conventions, highlighted the successes of the Rotterdam Convention, including listing 40 chemicals and establishing the Chemical Review Committee (CRC) as a strong, science-based subsidiary body. Willis noted that current challenges include achieving progress on compliance, deciding how to deal with chemicals recommended by CRC but not listed in the Convention. Recommendations of CRC with regard to chrysotile asbestos is pending since 2004. He was speaking at the fifth Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) opened in Geneva, Switzerland on 20 June 2011. South Africa called for expedited discussion on establishing mechanisms to list any CRC-recommended chemicals on which the COP is unable to reach consensus, including a possible new, voluntary annex to the Convention.

India noted the importance of achieving Convention objectives within the framework of sustainable development, called for development of alternatives to listed chemicals, and emphasized the importance of consensus-based decision-making.

China called for consensus-based decision-making and a gradual approach to adding chemicals to Annex III.

The Secretariat introduced the issue (UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.5/3) and proposed deleting brackets around a clause stating that, when attempts at consensus are exhausted, a two-thirds majority vote can be used to reach a decision. A number of
developing countries opposed this, and delegates agreed to revisit this issue at COP6.

NHRC Approached for Listing of Chrysotile Asbestos & Endosulfan in UN List of Hazardous Chemicals List

Press Release

NHRC Admits Application for Listing of Chrysotile Asbestos & Endosulfan in UN List of Hazardous Chemicals List

New Delhi/Kolkata 20/6/2011:Environmental groups demand listing of Chrysotile Asbestos and Endosulfan in UN List of Hazardous Chemicals List at the UN's fifth meeting of Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade that commenced today in Geneva, Switzerland. India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has admitted an application with regard to the same. The same is attached.

Chrysotile asbestos
Chrysotile (serpentine forms of asbestos) is being proposed to be included in the PIC procedure as an industrial chemical in the conference. Its listing is based on the final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict its use due to its impacts on health as notified by Australia, Chile and the European Union.

Endosulfan
The conference will consider proposals to include endosulfan as a pesticide in Annex III to the Convention as recommended by the Chemical Review Committee at its second and sixth meetings. Endosulfan is an insecticide which has been used for over 50 years to effectively control several pests such as chewing, sucking and boring insects. Due to its severe adverse effects on health and
environment, it is banned in at least 60 countries including the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, and other Asian and West African nations, and is being phased out in Brazil, China and the United States. However it is still used in many other countries on commercially important crops, such as coffee and tea.

An application was submitted to NHRC on 15th June, 2011 with reference to its previous complaint of 15th April, 2010 (Complaint No. 41418). The NHRC admitted the recent application on 16th June. The Complaint No. is: 89772. The application urged NHRC to recommend to Government of India to ask Government of India:
• To comply with the resolutions of WHO and ILO (2005 and 2006 seeking elimination of future use of asbestos including chrysotile asbestos worldwide
• To announce the compensation package for present and future victims of asbestos diseases as it has done in the case of Silicosis and make the asbestos companies criminally liable for knowingly exposing citizens and consumers of asbestos products
• To take note of Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ministry's statement in Rajya Sabha saying: "Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma'' on August 18, 2003
• To take cognisance of the order of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India dated January 21, 2011
• To take note of The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced in Rajya Sabha and the order of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission dated 31st January 2009 banning the use of asbestos in schools and hospitals
• To consider the deliberations of the International Conference on "Emerging Trends in Preventing Occupational Respiratory Diseases and Cancers in Workplace" at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi in March 2011 following which New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including Chrysotile from India on 24 March, 2011
• To take note of the fact that 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
• To recall that the World Health Organisation's latest estimate notes that asbestos already claims 107,000 lives a year. Even that conservative estimate means every five minutes around the clock a person dies of asbestos related disease. The ongoing use of the asbestos fibre kills at least 300 people every day
• To respect the scientific process of the Rotterdam Convention and approve the recommendations of the Chemical Review Committee to list chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of hazardous substances
• To refer to World Bank's Asbestos Good Practice Guidelines. These Guidelines, as well as its earlier Environmental, Health & Safety General Guidelines, require that the use of asbestos must be avoided in new construction in projects funded by the World Bank around the world. The Guidelines also provide information on available safer alternatives to asbestos.
In such a backdrop, it is germane to ask as to why India still a leading importer of chrysotile asbestos.

The application submitted that Canadian government which exports chrysotile asbestos to India has removed it from Canadian Parliament and its Prime Minister's Home. India has technically banned mining of asbestos (including chrysotile) but allows import, manufacture and use of asbestos based products which are proven to be deadly!

Earlier, NHRC has categorically observed that "...endosulfan has been banned in over 60 countries including all the major industrial nations, not because it was an inefficient pesticide, but because independent studies there had confirmed that its commercial utility was far outweighed by the great harm it caused to human health, to flora and fauna, and to the environment. The governments of these countries, therefore, put the right to health of their citizens, the lives of future generations and the protection of the environment above the commercial interests of the producers and users of endosulfan” in its order dated 31st December, 2010. This creates a rationale for Government of India to support listing of Endosulfan in the UN's hazardous chemicals and pesticides list.

It is also noteworthy that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) too has passed an order in Case No: 693/30/97-98 recommending that the asbestos sheets roofing be replaced with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful.
I submit that the Annual Report of NHRC 2003-2004 refers to a Report entitled “Asbestos – Health and Environment – an in-depth Study “submitted by the Institute of Public Health Engineers, India. The study underlines that safe and controlled use of asbestos is not possible.

It is relevant to point out that asbestos waste (dust and fibers) has been treated hazardous in all forms and has been banned under Hazardous Wastes Management Rules farmed under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. In our country, approximately 50, 000 people die every year due to asbestos related cancer. But so far Government of India has failed to take a pro-people’s health position and a scientific stand on the import of chrysotile asbestos whose mining is technically banned in India.

It may be noted that Kerala State Human Rights Commission has recommended ban on use of asbestos roofs for schools and hospitals. In view of the above, NHRC has been approached to recommend to Government of India to support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the UN list of hazardous chemicals.

Over 450 participants, representing more than 110 governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations are expected to attend the Conference. Under the theme “Rotterdam COP5: PICturing Chemical Safety, PICturing Informed Decisions”, the
conference will consider measures to strengthen implementation of the globe’s first line of defence for chemical safety.

The Rotterdam Convention entered into force in 2004. It built on the voluntary Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, procedure, initiated by UNEP and FAO in 1989, which gave way to the formalities of the Convention. The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004 and makes the PIC Procedure legally binding.

The conference will consider decisions on, adding chrysotile asbestos, endosulfan, alachlor and aldicarb to the Convention’s Annex III, triggering the exchange of information between Governments on permissible importation and use of these hazardous chemicals and pesticides. There are 40 other chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations already listed in Annex III.

Parties to the Rotterdam Convention will review progress on cooperation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and follow up on the work of the Committee on Trade and Environment in Special Session (CTESS) and the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) between the Secretariat and the World Trade Organization.

The conference is the second of three conferences of the parties scheduled in 2011 to consider synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. Parties to the Stockholm Convention met earlier this year and adopted a decision addressing joint activities, joint managerial functions, joint services, synchronization of budget cycles, joint audits and review arrangements
between the three global chemicals and waste agreements. An identical decision will be considered by Rotterdam Convention’s parties at this meeting, and by the Basel Conventions parties at the latter instrument’s 10th Conference of the Parties, meeting in Cartegena, Colombia, in October, 2011.

The UN's fifth meeting of Rotterdam Convention will conclude on 24th June, 2011.

For Details: Information and Public Relations Officer, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC, India), Ph: 91-11-23382742,
Email: ionhrc@hub.nic.in
Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)/Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), New Delhi Mb: 09818089660
E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com, toxicswatchalliance@gmail.com, Blog: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com,
Web: www.toxicswatch.com

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