Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bury Asbestos, not People of Vaishali, Madhubani, West Champaran & Bhojpur

To

Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Bihar
Patna

Date: 16/6/2012

Subject- Bury Asbestos, not People of Vaishali, Madhubani, West Champaran & Bhojpur

Sir,

This is to draw your urgent attention towards the disturbing trend of Bihar becoming the hotspot of hazardous asbestos based production, exposing the people here to cancer causing risks.

I submit that the construction of lung cancer causing white asbestos plants in Vaishali, Madhubani, West Champaran and production in Bhojpur must be put on hold. These plants must be stopped in view of the global, national and movement against such plants which are referred to as Time Bombs for lungs.

I submit that some of the upcoming plants in Bihar are Kolkata based Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) Industries Ltd at Goraul, Vaishali, Rajasthan based A Infrastructure Ltd at Pandaul Industrial Area, Madhubani and Andhra Pradesh based Hyderabad Industries Ltd at Kumarbagh Industrial Area, West Champaran.

I submit that in the neighbouring West Bengal, the ruling party that awarded the ‘Environment Excellence Award’ to an asbestos company (Utkal Asbestos Company), lost people’s trust through its Singur and Nandigram like indefensible acts.

I submit that underlining the importance of NHRC’s notice, villagers of Vaishali’s Chaksultan Ramppur Rajdhari near Panapur in Kanhauli Dhanraj Panchayat of in Goraul block have decided to hold a Mahadharana against the proposed white asbetsos plant of Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) company in their village on June 14, 2012. Their pamphlet is attached. Villagers have been proesting against the fake public hearing and faulty environmental clearnce under the banner of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jansangarsh Committee. They had organised a public meeting in this regard on May 1, 2012 as well wherein local officials were also present.

I submit that the promotion of asbestos continues despite the fact that alternatives to asbestos exist. The Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) for instance has developed roofing tiles and blocks using coir fibre and cement.

I wish to know the findings of the inquiry ordered by your Secretariat into the peoples’ demand for closure of the proposed asbestos plant at Muzaffarpur following a Citizens March in Patna. Your direction for inquiry revealed your sensitivity towards concerns raised by villagers.

I wish to inform you what Professor Elihu D Richter MD from the Hadassah School of Medicine of Hebrew University, Israel says about asbestos. He says: “All form of asbestos kill. India should bury asbestos, not people….India should not repeat the mistakes of going back some 70 years which will kill tens of thousands of workers and their families.”

I submit that asbestos was identified as a carcinogen way back in 1965. As a consequence fifty-five countries have already banned asbestos.

I submit that Rajasthan based A Infrastructure Ltd (AIL) has proposed Asbestos Cement Pressure pipes and sheets manufacturing Unit (Asbestos Cement Sheet 1,25,000 Tones Per Annum (TPA) and Asbestos Cement Pressure Pipe 1,00,000 TPA) at Pandaul Industrial Area under Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) at village Sagarpur, Tehsil Hati, district Madhubani. The project was given Environmental Clearance by the Union Environment & Forests Ministry on May 13, 2011 I without any public hearing. This plant should not be allowed because central government is sending out contradictory messages.

I submit that State Government should persuade the central government which does not favour new asbestos plants in the country in principle to translate its pious intention into practice. "The Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos." It has noted that "Asbestosis is yet another occupational disease of the Lungs which is on an increase under similar circumstances warranting concerted efforts of all stake holders to evolve strategies to curb this menace". A concept paper by Union Ministry of Labour revealed this at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on “Occupational Safety and Health” on 19-20th September, 2011.

(Reference: http://www.labour.nic.in/lc/Background%20note.pdf).

I submit that Union Railway Ministry has started procuring asbestos free products.

I submit that the Union Environment Ministry’s 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 which reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out” merit serious consideration.

The same is available at moef.nic.in/divisions/cpoll/envhealth/visenvhealth.pdf.

I submit that Union Ministry of Mines has already technically banned asbestos mining in India.

I submit that the position of Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers at the UN meeting on Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade on June 22, 2011 revealed that India’s supports to inclusion of Chrysotile (white) asbestos in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of hazardous chemicals. This was a major breakthrough. It ended the deadlock over the inclusion of Chrysotile in the PIC list. White asbestos has twice been recommended for inclusion by the Chemical Review Committee of the Convention. It was considered for the 3rd time by delegates to the 5th Conference of the Parties. Some 212 hazardous chemicals and pesticides have been notified in the list of banned or severely restricted chemicals. The white asbestos is all set to be formally included in the list.

I submit that you should not allow public interest to be undermined by a small minority more interested in defending the financial interests of a powerful asbestos industry rather than in protecting public health.

I submit that unmindful of these developments Hyderabad Industries Ltd (HIL) has proposed to set up a new Asbestos Corrugated sheets Unit of 250,000 TPA at Kumar Bagh Industrial Estate, (Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA), Bettiah, West Champaran Dist in a project area of 37.89 Acres. These efforts of the asbestos companies must be stopped for the sake of the life and health of present and future generations

I submit that the production in the three plants of Chennai based Ramco Industries Ltd. at Industrial Area in Bihiya, Bhojpur and Chennai based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd at Industrial Growth Centre, Giddha, Ara, Bhojpur also needs to be converted to non-asbestos based products. A high powered committee of occupational health and legal experts must examine the impact of asbestos exposure on the workers and the villagers who live in the vicinity of these plants.

I wish to draw your attention towards a statement from National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that has revealed that State government has failed to submit its report on asbestos related diseases. The statement dated June 5, 2012 is attached. NHRC had issued the notice to Chief Secretary, Bihar Government on July 6, 2011.

I submit that immediate steps are required to prevent environmental and occupational exposure to asbestos' besides non-occupational exposures to asbestos by banning use and manufacturing of white asbestos based products. It will set a healthy precedent for all the other states, the central government and neighboring countries. If a decision is taken ahead of Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development being held during June 20-22, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where a global political document is due to adopted by the Heads of States to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, it will enhance State’s prestige among the comity of nations.

I submit that the incurable diseases caused by white asbestos merit your attention. It is high time you intervened to stop any asbestos plant from being set up in the State because among other things it damages the reputation of the State by showing complete absence of scientific temper.

In this regard the Chief Secretary may be asked to submit his report on victims of Asbestos diseases to the NHRC at the earliest announce compensation package for present and future victims of these incurable lung diseases. The attached TWA’s paper on Status of Hazardous White Asbestos Factories in Bihar gives an overview of the situation. In this regard the attached New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including White Asbestos from India that was issued by world’s renowned scientists, doctors and jurists in March 2011 also merit attention.

I earnestly appeal to you to pay heed to the recommendations of Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) in its order dated January 31, 2009. The recommendations are: a) The State Government will replace asbestos roofs of all school buildings under its control with country tiles in a phased manner. b) The Government will take steps to see that the schools run under the private management also replace the asbestos roofs with country tiles by fixing a time frame. c) The Government should see that in future no new school is allowed to commence its functions with asbestos roofs. These recommendations are relevant for Bihar as well. It underlines the need for banning use of asbestos roofs in the State. Bihar State Human Rights Commission (BSHRC) announced that the white asbestos plant that was under construction in Chainpur-Bishunpur village, Jakhra Sheikh Panchyat, Marwan block of Muzaffarpur has now been wound up. The File Note 45/11 Justice S N Jha Chairman, BSHRC.

I submit that asbestos producing countries like Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Brazil have are dumping their asbestos to user countries like India. Interestingly, Canada has a no home use policy. In India, asbestos mining is technically banned. Trade in asbestos waste (dust and fibers) is banned but the process of banning trade, manufacturing and use of white asbestos is held because of the corporate infleunce of the asbetsos companies over ruling parties.

In view of the above, it is evident that there are grave concerns about asbestos exposures resulting in public health crisis world over. This has compelled 55 countries to ban use of asbestos.

Therefore, given the fact that health is a State subject, it is up to you to choose to ensure that Bihar becomes the first State in India and South Asia to ban asbestos. This will enhance State’s prestige. It will be yet another act that will compel central government to emulate you and initiate concrete steps for national ban on trade, manufacturing and use of asbestos based products.

Let me take the opportunity to seek an appointment for a delegation comprising of doctors, scientists and eminent citizens.

Thanking You

Yours Faithfully

Gopal Krishna,
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA),
New Delhi
Mb: 08002263335, 09818089660
Phone: +91-11-26517814, Fax: +91-11-26517814
E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com,
Web:toxicswatch.blogspot.com, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Cc

Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare
Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Union Commerce & Industry Minister
Union Finance Minister
Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers
Union Minister of Rural Development
Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar
Secretary, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests
Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Secretary, Union Ministry of Finance
Secretary, Union Ministry of Rural Development
Secretary, Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers

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