It is germane to inform you that we (ToxicsWatch Alliance) got a reply from Shri R N Jindal, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests based on Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCPC)’s note dated June 18, 2013 on the issue of Government of India’s position on hazardous substance chrysotile asbestos at the Sixth Conference of Parties of (CoP-6) of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade held during April 28-May 10, 2013 in Switzerland. The reply and the note based on NIOH study are attached because it is apparent that the same note is guiding the position of the focal ministry even in 2017.
We submit that MoEF’s contention based DCPC’s note stating that “On the basis of the said note, the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos under Annex ‘A’ of Rotterdam Convention at CoP-6 during April 28th -May 10th 2013 at Geneva could not be supported” was/is misplaced because even this questionable study did not state that white chrysotile asbestos is non-hazardous.
Having carefully read the note of the ‘line department’, i.e. Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCPC), Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers on the subject chrysotile asbestos, we submit that the note of the DCPC reveals that it has failed to understand the purpose of the Rotterdam Convention and ignorance about the objective of the Convention.
We submit that the note is irrelevant from the point of view of the objective of the Convention for which it was prepared. While one disagrees with the findings of the conflict of interest ridden study conducted by the NIOH, it is evident that even this study does not state that chrysotile asbestos is not a hazardous chemical.
We submit that had NIOH study concluded that Chrysotile Asbestos is not a hazardous chemical it may have become relevant. But even then it would have been legally unsustainable because under Indian laws chrysotile asbestos is a hazardous chemical.
We submit that the flawed conclusion of the note titled ‘Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals’ View on the use of Chrysotile Asbestos” in the country’ is quite stark and will not stand scrutiny of logic.
It may be noted that in our country, the government does not record cases of mesothelioma, and thus proclaims no one in the country develops the disease. Dr. Frank asserts, “a lack of data does not mean a lack of disease.” In fact, when speaking to a doctor from a major cancer hospital in Mumbai, Dr. Frank learned that, in just one year, there were 32 cases of mesothelioma in that hospital alone. “A lot of the asbestos cement factories — a major use of asbestos in India — are owned by members of parliament,” he said. “You can draw your own conclusions.”
Dr Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660
Web: www.asbestosfreeindia.org, toxicswatch.org