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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Government, industry team up for study on asbestos use

The government and the Indian asbestos industry are colluding to "generate" a science that will help the industry survive a global move to cut down use of the cancer-causing material.

Several prominent trade unions and civil society groups have complained to the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers against such a move, presenting evidence secured through the Right to Information Act proving that industry and the ministry was "manufacturing" convenient science.

India imports more than 3 lakh tonnes of asbestos from two major producers — Canada and Russia — and the domestic industry processes it primarily for the construction sector.

Roughly one lakh labourers working in domestic asbestos factories are exposed to asbestos fibre that WHO and several other international organisations as well as more than 40-odd countries claim causes cancer when inhaled.

The groups, in their letter, referred to documents that proved the study being conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) — assessing the impact of asbestos on workers — was being manipulated by the ministry and industry.

The government plans to take this study to a critical global meeting — Rotterdam Convention — this year. Under the convention, an expert body called the Chemical Review Committee recommends whether a hazardous product has met the criteria of the convention and should be placed on a special list, which requires countries to obtain prior consent before they can export the product.

India has continuously opposed the move to put white asbestos on the list. The NIOH study could help India block the move yet again.

The study is partly funded by the industry. The terms of reference given to NIOH by the ministry are explicit: "The deliverables will include generation of data which would justify the safe standards of its usage as also the reasons/rationale justifying its non-inclusion/or otherwise in the Prior Informed Consent (list)..."

Nitin Sethi,
19 Mar 2008
The Times of India

Union Ministry of Labour & Employment

Press Information Bureau Release

March 17, 2008



A project titled: “A study of health hazards/environmental hazards resulting from the use of chrysotile asbestos in the country” is under way with National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad.

The total cost of the project is Rs. 59.66 lakhs. Out of this, Government of India (Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers) is contributing Rs. 43.66 lakhs and the balance of Rs. 16 lakhs is contributed by the Asbestos Cement Product Manufacturer Association to ensure cooperation and involvement of the industry.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment Shri Oscar Fernandes (Independent Charge) in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

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