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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

India should ban white chrysotile asbestos like Ukraine & some 60 countries

On June 26, Ukraine banned all kinds of asbestos including white chrysotile asbestos

In a letter dated June 25, 2017 addressed to Union Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, ToxicsWatch has sought stoppage of grant of environmental clearances to asbestos based factories and projects to save Indians from killer mineral fibers of white chrysotile asbestos. In a related development, at a press briefing on June 26, 201 held in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine’s Ministry of Health has prohibited the use of asbestos and products containing asbestos. This was announced. The briefing was entitled: “Health without compromises. With this Ukraine has formally banned asbestos. This briefing was co-organized by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health.” The Ministry confirmed that the asbestos prohibition adopted by the Ministry of Health on 29 March, 2017 and approved in June 2017 by relevant ministries and government department has come into force. These new regulations ban the use of all types of asbestos including white chrysotile asbestos. This implies that it will not be purchasing asbestos from Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mining companies anymore.
The English version video of the Press-briefing is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E95WzLupHeY

Notably, the following countries have taken cognizance of the hazardous nature of all kinds of asbestos including white chrysotile asbestos:  1) Algeria, 2) Argentina, 3) Australia, 4) Austria, 5) Bahrain, 6) Belgium, 7) Brunei, 8) Bulgaria,  9) Chile, 10) Croatia, 11) Cyprus, 12) Czech Republic, 13) Denmark, 14) Egypt, 15) Estonia, 16) Finland, 17) France, 18)  Gabon, 19) Greece, 20) Germany, 21) Gibraltar, 22) Hungary, 23) Honduras, 24) Iceland, 25) Iraq, 26) Ireland, 27) Israel, 28) Italy, 29) Japan, 30) Jordan, 31) Kuwait, 32) Latvia, 33) Luxembourg, 34) Lithuania, 35) Mauritius, 36) Mozambique, 37) Malta, 38) Netherlands, 39) New Caledonia, 40) New Zealand, 41) Norway, 42) Oman, 43) Portugal, 44) Poland, 45) Qatar, 46) Romania, 47) Saudi Arabia, 48) Sweden,  49) Switzerland, 50) Serbia, 51) Seychelles, 52) Slovakia, 53) Slovenia, 54) South Africa, 55) South Korea, 56) Spain, 57) Turkey, 58) Uruguay and 59) United Kingdom. India can learn from these countries which have banned asbestos. 
The letter sent by ToxicsWatch to Dr Harshvardhan provides 14 suggestions for making his ministries purposeful and effective. In keeping with the Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health” of the environment ministry, it has sought his intervention to make India free of asbestos. The Vision Statement states “4.3.1 Environmental epidemiological studies are required to be carried out near to industrial estates and hazardous waste disposal sites to estimate the extent of health risks including from asbestos. Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out.” The letter is attached.
The letter drew minister’s attention towards the order of Kerala Human Rights Commission dated January 31, 2009 which has the following recommendations: 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. I seek your intervention to ensure  strict compliance with this order and to get a Register of asbestos laden buildings prepared so that a road map can be prepared for their decontamination. The state ought to prepare a Register of those workers who handle asbestos and the victims of primary and secondary exposure from asbestos fibers.    
It drew his attention towards the Concept Paper dated September 2011 of Union Ministry of Labour, Government of India presented at the EU-India Seminar that reveals that the Central Government is planning to eliminate asbestos from the country due to health reasons.  The paper is available on Ministry's website.  
It drew the attention of the minister towards Supreme Court's order dated January 27, 1995 and World Health Organisation (WHO)'s outline for the Development of National Programmes for elimination of asbestos related diseases' make a case for stopping all asbestos based products to prevent the imminent public health crisis as a consequence of which more than 55 countries have banned all forms of asbestos.   

It may be recalled that late Shri Anil Madhav Dave as Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change had said on 15 August 2016 that “Since the use of asbestos is affecting human health, its use should gradually be minimised and eventually end. As far as I know, its use is declining. But it must end…”

The letter reads, “It will be great if you can pursue remedial measures for present and future generations before children get engulfed in the epidemic of incurable but preventable asbestos related diseases. This is of seminal importance to prevent preventable diseases and deaths.”

For Details: Dr Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, 08227816731, E-mail: 1715krishna@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org   






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