India should support listing of both the chemicals in UN list
May 6, 2015: In a statement addressed to the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak expressed his dismay at "the erection of obstacles to the listing of asbestos and paraquat under the Rotterdam Convention during previous Conferences of the Parties."
Asbestos producers like Russia & Kazakhstan are opposing listing of white chrysotile asbestos under UN list of hazardous substances (Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention). World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) have underlined the hazardous nature of this substance. White chrysotile asbestos is banned in over 50 countries because its safe and controlled use is impossible.
In countries like India there is almost no health infrastructure to even diagnose the incurable diseases caused by exposure to its fibers. There is lack of lab facilities which can detect its presence in buildings and products in a situation where there is not a single building India which can claim to be asbestos free. Its listing in the UN list merely a preliminary preventive step. India should re-adopt its 2011 position on white chrysotile asbestos when Mira Mehrshi led the Indian delegation and resisted the influence and presence of asbestos industry lobby amidst standing ovation. It is hoped that Shashi Shekhar, the head of Hazardous Substances Management Division, Government of India will restore India's prestige by re-adopting a scientifically and legally defensible position.
Notably, India's National Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned about the issue and is seized with case dealing with deaths and diseases caused by exposure asbestos fibers.
As to the listing of of Paraquat, as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, Guatemala and India blocked its listing at the last Conference of Parties in 2013. This substance herbicide is prohibited in more than 40 countries including the home country of Syngenta, the main manufacturer. A teaspoon of paraquat is enough to kill a person and there is no antidote. Farmers suffer from skin burns, blindness, and respiratory damage as a result of using paraquat. India should resist lobbying by business interests to protect public health.
Tuncak concluded saying, "It is both legally and morally unjustifiable for countries to continue to obstruct the listing of asbestos and paraquat under the Rotterdam Convention and derogates from their obligation to realize the right to access information.
I encourage all Parties to protect and respect human rights by listing asbestos, paraquat and other chemicals proposed for listing under the Rotterdam Convention."
Chemical Review Committee (CRC) of the Rotterdam Convention has recommended their listing in the UN list.There is compelling scientific and medical evidence for India to support the listing of both these substances in the list of hazardous substances.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India-ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660, Efirstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.toxicswatch.orgFor Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India-ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660, Eemail@example.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org
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