Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chrysotile industry shaping India's position for Prior Informed Consent Treaty

The next conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention will be held from 27 to 31 October 2008 in Rome. Chrysotile asbestos will be on the agenda of COP-4 - as was agreed at COP-3. This treaty that is a result the efforts of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) came into force on 24 February 2004. The text of the Convention was adopted on 10 September 1998 by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Indian government irrespective of the ruling party has consistently colluded with asbestos interests. The full text is available at

At the Rotterdam Convention, 9-13 October 2006 held in Geneva, Switzerland, the third Conference of Parties (COP-3) to the Convention attended by 140 governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organisations failed to bring Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Treaty to apply to chrysotile asbestos, a known human carcinogen that represents 94 per cent of world’s asbestos.

The Indian delegation comprised of Naresh Dayal, Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Kumaresh C Misra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertlisers joined countries including Canada, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to stop the listing of chrysotile asbestos.

The delegation was accompanied by Brig. A K Sethi, Executive Director of the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association and Ganeshan, General Manager, Excel Industries- the Endosulfan manufacturer, making Indian delegation, the only one with industry representatives sitting with the official delegation.

Although 95 per cent of the countries sought its inclusion, the COP-3 failed to list this and the decision to include it has been proposed in COP-4 in 2008.

The Indian delegation argued that the science behind the recommendation to list chrysotile asbestos was not categorical. It claimed that India was in thed process of studying on the hazards of pure chrysotile.

The objectives of the Convention are:

· to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm;

· to contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.

The Convention creates legally binding obligations for the implementation of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. It built on the voluntary PIC procedure, initiated by UNEP and FAO in 1989 and ceased on 24 February 2006.

Major Provisions:

The Convention covers pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons by Parties and which have been notified by Parties for inclusion in the PIC procedure. One notification from each of two specified regions triggers consideration of addition of a chemical to Annex III of the Convention, Severely hazardous pesticide formulations that present a hazard under conditions of use in developing countries or countries with economies in transition may also be nominated for inclusion in Annex III.

There are 39 chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and subject to the PIC procedure, including 24 pesticides, 4 severely hazardous pesticide formulations and 11 industrial chemicals. Many more chemicals are expected to be added in the future. The Conference of the Parties decides on the inclusion of new chemicals.

Once a chemical is included in Annex III, a "decision guidance document" (DGD) containing information concerning the chemical and the regulatory decisions to ban or severely restrict the chemical for health or environmental reasons, is circulated to all Parties.

Parties have nine months to prepare a response concerning the future import of the chemical. The response can consist of either a final decision (to allow import of the chemical, not to allow import, or to allow import subject to specified conditions) or an interim response. Decisions by an importing country must be trade neutral (i.e., apply equally to domestic production for domestic use as well as to imports from any source).

The import decisions are circulated and exporting country Parties are obligated under the Convention to take appropriate measure to ensure that exporters within its jurisdiction comply with the decisions.

The Convention promotes the exchange of information on a very broad range of chemicals. It does so through:

· the requirement for a Party to inform other Parties of each national ban or severe restriction of a chemical;

· the possibility for Party which is a developing country or a country in transition to inform other Parties that it is experiencing problems caused by a severely hazardous pesticide formulation under conditions of use in its territory;

· the requirement for a Party that plans to export a chemical that is banned or severely restricted for use within its territory, to inform the importing Party that such export will take place, before the first shipment and annually thereafter;

· the requirement for an exporting Party, when exporting chemicals that are to be used for occupational purposes, to ensure that an up-to-date safety data sheet is sent to the importer; and

· labeling requirements for exports of chemicals included in the PIC procedure, as well as for other chemicals that are banned or severely restricted in the exporting country.

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