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.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

States of denial: Why asbestos in India is a Canadian problem

By Katie Daubs

OTTAWA — In the Indian state of Jharkhand, hills emerge sporadically from the rural jungle. In the middle of the lush green setting, children grab makeshift toboggans and head to the surprisingly snow-capped Roro Hills. They slide down a fluffy hilltop to squeals of delight.

Twenty years ago, they mined chrysotile asbestos here - a “soft” form of asbestos that some say can be mined safely, with proper regulation. When workers started getting sick, they shut the mine down. In the company’s rush to leave, they forgot the toxic playground they left behind.

Two decades have passed, many people have died, even more are sick. The large pile of asbestos has seeped into everything, poisoning the water, the ground and the people in the tribal hamlets. There’s no way of knowing how many are sick because there aren’t any statistics.

“People are exposed everyday from childhood to death. What happens to these people, what do they die of? The government is not bothered, the company is not bothered. No one is bothered.”

This is a rural area. The doctors here are not trained to diagnose occupational health diseases and cannot access electricity, let alone X-ray machines. Asbestos-caused cancers like mesothelioma and asbestosis go by a different name here. Tuberculosis.

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