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.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rajasthan continues to mine killer asbestos fiber

Mining causes havoc in Rajasthan: Report

UDAIPUR: Unregulated mining and rampant illegal mining in Rajasthan has systematically destroyed forests, devastated the Aravallis, and played havoc with the water resources of the state.

Atleast that is what the sixth state of India's environment report "Rich Lands, Poor People Is sustainable mining possible?" prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment says.

The report was recently released in Udaipur at a function co-organised by the Jodhpur-based Mine Labour Protection Campaign (MLPC), a public dialogue followed the release to discuss issues related to mining in the state.

With the industry ready to pounce on mining leases in schedule-V areas banned for the last nine years and opened by the previous Vasundhara Raje Scindia government in 2008 it is only a matter of time before the current government gives into pressure from industry and lure of the money, fears the report.

According to this extensive, 350-page report the state government has failed to regulate illegal mining in forest areas. Udaipur, the most forested district of Rajasthan is also the most mined. The government has issued leases for hundreds of mines in Sariska National Park despite repeated Supreme Court orders to close them down. This has had a devastating impact on the forest cover of the state.

As per the data provided in the report, Rajasthan holds reserves for 44 major and 22 minor minerals and is the only producer of garnet, jasper, selenite, wollastonite and zinc concentrates. It is also the leading producer of calcite, lead concentrate, ball clay, fireclay, ochre, phosphorite, silver and steatite. But it is best known for its production of marble, sandstone, marble and other stones. It produces 10% of the world's and 70% of India's output of sandstone. Ajmer, Bhilwara, Bikaner, Dungarpur, Jaipur, Pali, Rajsamand, and Udaipur are its main mining districts.

Report says that illegal mines have no mechanism in place to implement environmental protection measures. For instance, sandstone quarries may be as small as 200 x 100 feet and employ as few as five to eight people who make Rs 30-50 per day (for men) or Rs 15-30 per day (for women). "Because these mines operate beyond the law, workers' rights are not recognised. Basic facilities such as toilets and water do not exist, nor do safety procedures or compensation for accidents," says the report. In Makrana mines, there is an average of one death a day. According to the MLPC, there are three deaths every day from work-related illnesses like silicosis and tuberculosis.

Further, Rajasthan continues to dabble with asbestos despite a worldwide ban on the mineral. Rajasthan, which has 54% of India's asbestos resources, still has five to six operational mines. According to the World Health Organisation, all forms of asbestos causes cancer, with chrysotile asbestos increasing the risk to cancer. This is a major health risk for workers, especially since these illegal mines do not provide safety equipment or compensation in case of accidents or deaths.

The report has expressed great concern that extensive mining of sandstone, marble and other minerals has converted the Aravalis into a rocky wasteland. Despite Supreme Court orders and threats since 1996, mining has continued unabated in the Aravallis.

10 Mar 2009, Trilok Sharma,

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