This is the status of the asbestos in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as of April 6, 2016.
NHRC Vide proceedings dated 22.12.2014, notice was issued to the Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Government of India requiring him to report whether any steps had been taken pursuant to the proposal to ban the use of Chrysotile Asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure of Chrysotile form of Asbestos.
Though the notice dated 29.1.2015 was sent to the Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Government of India for submitting report by 20.3.2015, no report has been received so far. Hence, a reminder may be issued to the Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Govt. of India to submit a report in the matter within four weeks. Vide proceedings dated 22.12.2014, the Government of Bihar was directed to file a report within six weeks regarding the question whether the directions contained in the judgment of the Supreme Court in W.P. (C ) No.206 of 1986 are being followed by the manufacturers of asbestos in the State of Bihar including M/s Ramco Industries Ltd., District Bhojpur. However, no response has been received from the Government of Bihar despite the communication dated 29.1.2015 sent by the Commission. Hence, the Secretary, Labour Department, Government of Bihar may be reminded to submit the required report within four weeks, failing which the Commission will be constrained to take action u/s 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
Pursuant to the proceedings dated 20.3.2015, a copy of the comments of the Toxics Watch Alliance dated 1.3.2015 was sent to the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar for his comments within a period of eight weeks. But the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar has not furnished his comments so far. Hence, the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar may be directed to submit within four weeks his comments in respect of the comments dated 1.3.2015 of Toxics Watch Alliance, which had been sent to him by the Commission. The report received from the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai regarding the hazardous effect of asbestos was considered by the Commission on 30.3.2015 and it was directed to give a copy of the report to the representatives of the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association seeking their comments.
Accordingly, the report was forwarded to Ms. Rashmi Virmani, Advocate vide Commission letter dated 1.5.2015. Ms. Rashmi Virmani, Advocate has submitted the comments of the Association through communication dated 29.6.2015. As Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association has requested to ignore the report submitted by the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai for the reasons stated in their comments. The comments of the Association may be forwarded to the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai requesting for their response to the criticism made by the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association.
The Director, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai may be requested to sent a response within four weeks. From a report submitted by the State of Tamil Nadu pursuant to the notice issued by the Commission, it is seen that the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India had constituted an Advisory Committee on asbestos and the first meeting of the Committee was held on 19.4.2012. It is also seen that the Directorate General, Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) has modified the existing Schedule on Asbestos in line with ILO Convention No.162 on the direction s of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. It is also seen that the revised model rules were yet to be approved by the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India. In the above circumstances, the Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India is requested to inform the Commission within four weeks whether the revised model rules have been approved by the Government of India.
Earlier, NHRC took cognizance of a complaint alleging that about fifty thousand people die every year in the country due to Asbestos related cancer. The complainant has sought Commission's intervention for a ban on the use of Chrysotile Asbestos (White Asbestos), which is hazardous for the health of people and causes various incurable diseases. The white Asbestos is a fibrous material used for building roofs and walls and various in other forms.
Citing contradictory position of the Government on the issue the complainant Toxics Watch Alliance has alleged that though the mining of Asbestos has been technically banned by the government, but it allows its import and that too from the countries which do not prefer its domestic use.
It is also alleged that white Asbestos is considered a hazardous chemical substance for environment by a number of countries in the world. However, it is being used in a number of industries in India affecting the workers employed their in.
The complainant has also requested for grant of a compensation package for present and future victims of Asbestos diseases.
The Commission had issued notices to the Secretaries of Ministries of Chemical Fertilizers, Environment and Forest, Health and Family Welfare, Industry and Commerce, Labour and Chief Secretaries of all the States/Union Territories calling for status reports within four weeks on the issues raised in the complaint. Almost all these agencies have filed their replies in the Commission. The case is at its penultimate stage.
The Chief Administrative Officer, TMC, Mumbai has also not submitted his response on the communication dated 29.6.2015 submitted by Ms. Rashmi Virmani, Advocate which contained the objections of the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Assocition. The Chief Administrative Officer, TMC, Mumbai may be reminded to submit the required response within four weeks.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India-ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660, Efirstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.asbestosfreeindia.org, www.toxicswatch.org