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, April 15, 2008

New mineral policy comes under flak

DH News Service, New Delhi

Five days after the Centre released the National Mineral Policy, green activists are up in arms against the policys stand on use of asbestos.

Environmentalists alleged that the government is not only ignoring the toll asbestos takes on national health, but is also siding with the asbestos industry to promote their interest.

The green lobby has a point because of a controversial study being undertaken by researchers at the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad, that seeks to explore the health risks associated with asbestos industry.

But in a clear “conflict of interest” case, the industry is funding almost one-fourth of this study whose findings are crucial to determine if India can resists a proposed global regime for restrictive trade practices in this hazardous material.

The results are likely to be used in a global summit in October where India is expected to lobby hard for a free global trade in asbestos, sources told Deccan Herald.

Globally more than 40 nations have banned the use of white asbestos due to high health risks.

The research was prompted because of a proposal under the Rotterdam Convention to make asbestos trade more restrictive by categorising chrysotile as a hazardous material for which “prior informed consent (PIC)” was required for any trading.

While India, Canada and Ukraine along with a handful of countries are opposing this proposal, other countries are carrying out national studies to find out if the health risks associated with asbestos are manageable.

“Despite the pressure, the minister for mines Sis Ram Ola revealed in the new policy that India continues to use asbestos. The indifference towards occupational and public health is unpardonable,” says a member of Bas Asbestos Network of India.

Left-backed trade unions are also critical of the government for giving a free run to the industry. In a letter to top officials in the ministry of chemicals and fertiliser, the trade unions stated that NIOH study needs to be immediately scrapped as it will seal the fate of millions of workers handling asbestos.

April 15, 2008

Deccan Herald

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