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, February 26, 2010

Canada's Opposition Party for Asbestos Export Ban

After the asbestos laden end of life ship from US, now a asbestos laden end of life ship from UK is on the way to India. In the current session of the Indian parliament, 8 questions have been raised in the parliament making the concerned ministry to approach 29 govt agencies to prepapre its replies.

Canada's Liberal Party now for Asbestos Export Ban. Michael Ignatieff, M.P., Liberal Party, Leader of the Official Opposition has confirmed this. It has not been clear until now whether Michael Ignatieff's position to end asbestos mining and export was just his position and that of some Liberal MPs or whether it was the Liberal Party position.

Marc Garneau, Ignatieff's new Quebec lieutenant, went to the town of Asbestos on February 23 and met with the asbestos industry lobby and told them face to face that this is the Liberal Party's position. The industry seems now to have accepted that they have lost the support of the federal Liberal Party and that this will not change.

The Conservative Party is now the only national party supporting asbestos. Prime Minister Harper is refusing to listen to the clear scientific evidence and is showing a cynical and callous indifference to the lives of people in developing countries. Harper has promised that, if he is Prime Minister, he will sabotage the upcoming Rotterdam Convention conference in 2011 and prevent chrysotile asbestos from being listed as a hazardous substance, so that it can be sold in developing countries, without letting them know of its hazards.

Office of Michael Ignatieff, M.P., Leader of the Official Opposition says, "Mr. Ignatieff has publicly stated the Liberal Party’s position on this issue. Scientists and the Government of Canada’s own health study have indicated that asbestos is dangerous to public health. The Liberal Party believes that the right thing to do is to begin transitioning out of the business of exporting asbestos. During this transition, our main concern must be for the people and communities involved in the industry. A transition program must be established to assist these communities and create new jobs."

P.S:Amid growing awareness about the dangers of using Holi colours due to presence of chemicals, most people prefer to use dry colours made of flower petals or other herbals. The colours used now have many chemical ingredients that are hazardous to health. Beware of dry colours are made with asbestos and chalk powder, and silica. Alkaline-base is used in watercolours, which can cause serious eye diseases.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quebec Premier Charest Accused Of Lying About Asbestos

Premier Charest Accused Of Lying About Asbestos

Adverse coverage of Radio-Canada (CBC) TV and radio on the letter to Quebec's Premier Jean Charest challenging him for his blatant misrepresentation of the position of the WHO regarding asbestos.

When challenged in India about the illnesses being suffered by Indian workers who had been handling Quebec's asbestos, Charest stated that many WHO reports back up his position that chrysotile asbestos (which represents 100% of the asbestos trade) can be safely handled under controlled conditions.

Sources from Canada inform that they then interviewed scientists who stated that this is false, that there is not a single WHO report supporting Charest's "safe use" policy and that, in fact, the WHO recommends ending use of asbestos.

The Quebec Minister of Health was then interviewed and expressed his support for the "safe use" position. They then interviewed the Minister of Health's own health experts who disagreed and said that Quebec has had difficulties to achieve "safe use" and that "safe use" is likely impossible, particularly for workers in the construction industry.

Here are the links to the Radio-Canada coverage:

a TV:
b) Radio :

c) Article on website:

2) There is a strong opinion piece by Alain Dubuc, an influential columnist at La Presse. It challenges Premier Charest for his hypocrisy over asbestos and says this can do serious damage to Quebec's reputation.
"Quand c'est notre cochonnerie" (When it's our ugly doings), La Presse, le 12 février 2010,

3) There is also an extraordinarily powerful letter in Le Soleil, which is accompanied by a large photo and heading, giving the letter great prominence. You might want to take a look. The letter is titled "Tribal Reflex". It says that the three major political parties in Quebec have endorsed export of asbestos to poor countries, without caring about the health of the population there. This contradicts any claim by these parties that our society is the most just, the most generous and the best environmentally. They are making an ugly face at their country, which disapproves of this practice. This shows a smallness of spirit, a tribal reflex.

"Réflexe tribal", le 11 février 2010

3) There was even coverage of the letter to Charest in an Arab Emirates publication.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Canada exports majority of dangerous mineral to developing countries

Note:In India, Mine Jeffrey Inc.'s top customer is Hyderabad Industries Ltd., the country's largest manufacturer of asbestos-cement sheets and corrugated roofing. Baljit Singh Chadha is Jeffrey Mine's exclusive agent in India. The Mumbai -born, Montreal-based Chadha, whose Balcorp Ltd. is a $100 million (revenues) international trade and marketing company, is a member of the Queen's Privy Council and has been JM's representative for two decades. "You have to look at it from the point of view that people didn't have a roof over their heads," he says. "With a little bit of economic development they were managing to have a shack with a roof over their head, and this was the most practical thing that was available." If the product's growth continues on its current path, Chadha predicts that India's asbestos usage could grow to 500,000 tonnes a year from 300,000 currently. in a news report dated 27 December, 2009.

Controversy brews over asbestos deaths in Mexico

Martin Mittelstaedt

From Saturday's Globe and Mail, Published on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

The death toll from mesothelioma, a rare cancer almost always caused by asbestos exposure, is rising rapidly in Mexico, a major market for Canada's exports of the mineral, and could be as high as 500 a year.

The figure – an estimate by doctors at the Mexican Institute of Social Security, a government health agency – is likely to spur further controversy over Canada's aggressive promotion of the cancer-causing material in the developing world. Concerns over asbestos were a focus of attention during Quebec Premier Jean Charest's recent trade mission to India. He defended the mineral, which is mined in his province and supports about 700 jobs.

Guadalupe Aguilar, an occupational health expert who led the team that conducted the research, said the full impact of asbestos may be even greater because medical surveys have found that for every mesothelioma death, there are likely an additional 2.3 fatal cases of lung cancer due to inhalation of the mineral. The total number of asbestos caused deaths in Mexico is probably around 1,500 annually, Dr. Aguilar said.

The researchers published the mortality estimate in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Industrial Medicine. They said the “major type of asbestos” used in Mexico “is chrysotile imported from Canada.” And they called the asbestos trade a “deplorable example of the manner in which dangerous industries are being deliberately exported to Mexico and less industrialized countries.”

Developing countries use asbestos as an additive to strengthen cement.

Critics of the asbestos industry contend the Mexican findings call into question the federal and Quebec governments' view that the mineral can be used with little risk, and suggest an even higher health toll because Canada exports it to many other countries.

“The evidence is clear that chrysotile asbestos around the world is causing devastating health impacts,” said Kathleen Ruff, senior human-rights adviser at the Rideau Institute, a left-leaning Ottawa think tank.

The federal government said the new research doesn't alter its view that asbestos can be used safely, and that it is tightly regulated in Mexico.

“The risks associated with its use can be managed under controlled conditions. Banning chrysotile is neither necessary nor appropriate,” Natural Resources Canada said in a statement. It contended the Mexican deaths were due to past uses of asbestos that are now prohibited.

But the study disputed the federal view, and the doctors said they found many Mexican workers aren't aware of the dangers posed by asbestos. It concluded a ban is the only way “to prevent the epidemic clearly shown using national mortality data.”

The Canadian position is also at odds with the World Health Organization, which says no known safe threshold exists for asbestos exposure, and the most effective way to eliminate the health hazard is to stop using it.

Asbestos is considered so dangerous that some provinces, such as Ontario, limit exposure to a maximum of one dust-like fibre in 10 cubic centimetres of air, something that requires highly sophisticated monitoring and ventilation equipment.

Because of health and litigation risks, Canada doesn't use much asbestos. About 95 per cent of Quebec's output is exported, virtually all of it to the developing world. Canada is a dominant seller in Mexico, accounting for about one-third of the market in 2008.

On hot seat over asbestos

Physicians attack Premier; Damning report rebuts his contention mineral can have benign uses

By MICHELLE LALONDE, The Gazette, February 12, 2010

Just as a group of prominent Canadian physicians accuse Premier Jean Charest of lying to the public about asbestos, another damning report on the mineral will be published today in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Charest recently returned from a trade mission in India, where anti-asbestos protesters accused his government of hypocrisy for exporting the cancer-causing mineral to developing countries while removing it from Quebec schools and public buildings because of health concerns.

On the trade mission, the premier was quoted in La Presse as saying "Chrysotile (asbestos) can be used in a safe manner; this is what WHO reports say. It is not a banned substance. It is up to the government of India to put the necessary laws in place."

In fact, the World Health Organization has said that all types of asbestos, including the type mined in Quebec (chrysotile) cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, and recommends against continued use of any form of asbestos. The International Labour Organization adopted a resolution in 2006 urging the elimination of use of all forms of asbestos and of materials containing asbestos.

A group of 14 Canadian physicians, including McGill University's Abby Lippman and Dick Menzies of the Montreal Chest Institute, sent a letter to Charest yesterday expressing their "shock" at his statements and accusing him of misrepresenting the position of the World Health Organization.

"Premier Charest, you have the right to oppose the WHO position. However, and especially because of the public trust in your position, you do not have the right to misrepresent the WHO position as being what you perhaps wish it were, instead of what it is," the letter says.

Menzies, a respiratory physician at the Montreal Chest Institute and one of the signatories of the letter, said selling asbestos to countries that clearly lack the resources to enforce workplace safety standards is like selling guns to children. You can say that you warned them about the danger, but it is still morally unacceptable.

"They simply do not have the same workplace safety standards we do here. To argue that it is not a carcinogen is ludicrous. To argue that it's dangerous, but it is their responsibility to handle it safely is a moral question."

The physicians have asked for a meeting with the premier on the issue, and also urged him to clarify his statement. Calls by The Gazette to the premier's office were not returned.

Meanwhile, a report to be published today in the March issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine shows the devastating impact Quebec's asbestos is having on the health of workers in Mexico who come into contact with the mineral.

The researchers looked at 472 Mexican workers, 119 of whom had been found to have pleural mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease. More than 80 per cent of those with the disease had been exposed to asbestos on the job.

"Our results show a clear relationship between industrial use of all types of asbestos and malignant pleural mesothelioma, and in Mexico the major type of asbestos is chrysotile imported from Canada, confirming that asbestos is a carcinogenic agent that has been recognized as such by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) since 1977," the report says.

The cost of medical attention for each mesothelioma case during the first year of treatment was estimated at $8,238 U.S.

"The social and economic impact of these diseases and asbestos-related deaths should be absorbed by the industries that have generated the damage and not by the health institutions, as it occurs at present," the authors conclude.

Read more:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Premier Charest challenged by scientists for supporting the science on climate change, but not on asbestos

Quebec Premier Charest challenged by scientists for supporting the science on climate change, but not on asbestos

While Premier Charest is in Vancouver attending the Olympics, a number of scientists and health advocates have issued him a challenge for supporting the science on climate change but not the science on asbestos.

“We are shocked by your statement that your government closed its mind on the asbestos question a long time ago and will not change its position,” Dr Kapil Khatter, President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, told Charest.

“Premier Charest, a closed mind is a very dangerous thing, particularly in a political leader,” say the scientists in their letter, sent to Charest today.

The signers agree with Charest’s statement that, politically, asbestos is part of Quebec’s history. They say this does not, however, justify use of asbestos and note that “It is dangerous to substitute politics for science.”

The letter is signed by Prof. Abby Lippman of McGill University, on behalf of scientists from five other universities and health advocates.

“Our question is: why does Premier Charest refuse to listen to his own Quebec experts at his government’s National Public Health Institute, who oppose his position on asbestos,” said Dr Fernand Turcotte, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Medicine at Laval University and one of the signers. “On what basis does Premier Charest reject the position of the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Cancer Society, who say asbestos use must end?”

“Instead of supporting independent science, Premier Charest is supporting the position of the asbestos lobby group (the Chrysotile Institute),” said Kathleen Ruff of the Rideau Institute. “On Jan. 28, this Institute, which is funded by the Quebec and Canadian governments, put out a press release calling the position of the Canadian Medical Association to ban asbestos “wacko.” It boggles the mind that Premier Charest and Prime Minister Harper are giving tax-payer funds to this industry lobby group and allowing it to set their asbestos policy.”

The group asked to meet with Charest and asked that, if he had been misquoted, he issue a corrected statement of his position on asbestos.

= 30 =

Dr Fernand Turcotte, (514) 389-1240,

Kathleen Ruff, (250) 847-1848,

Dr Kapil Khatter, (613) 864-9591,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hyderabad Industries, the market leader in asbestos-based roofing industry

Note: Asbestos is banned in some 50 countries because it causes incurable diseases.

Incorporated in 1946, Hyderabad Industries Limited (HIL) is the flagship company of C. K. Birla group of company. Company’s manufacturing units are situated in Hyderabad, Faridabad, Jasidih, Dharuhera, Thimmapur, Vijayawada, Chennai, Thrissur, Wada, Sathariya and Balasore. HIL is the market leader in asbestos-based roofing industry under the brand name of “CHARMINAR”.

Both the division of the company has performed exceptionally well. Building Products division is high margin business of the company, contributing 95% to sales in FY09. Revenues from Building products increased by 28% and Thermal Insulation Products increased by 29% on Y-o-Y basis in FY09. PBIT for Building products increased massively by 210%, however PBIT for thermal insulation product division declined by 2%.

During the quarter ended on 31st Dec, 2009 the net sales of the company reported an increment of 13% on y-o-y basis to Rs 146.01cr as against Rs 129.64cr during the corresponding quarter last year. The operating profit for quarter increased by massive 65.44% to Rs
27.43cr against Rs 16.58cr, largely on account of increased revenue of the company.

Net profit for the quarter rose by an impressive 120.45% y-o-y basis to Rs 14.55cr as against Rs 6.6cr during the corresponding quarter last year. The current price of Rs 54 discounts the company's Q3 December 2009 annualized EPS of Rs 96.36, by a PE multiple of 6.18.

Hyderabad industries is the market leader in asbestos based roofing industry with installed capacity of 764500 MT and market share of around 20.5% and is also largest manufacturer of calcium silicate, insulation blocks, pipe sections and jointing for gasketting.

The cement products manufacturers, manufactures value-added utility building products like Fibre Cement Sheets, Autoclaved Aerated Cement Blocks, Aerocon Panels and Fibre Cement Boards. There are 17 major players in this industry with about 63 manufacturing unit. Everest industries, Hyderabad industries, Ramco industries and Visaka industries are the major domestic players.

The efficiency of the companies in this sector is apprehended by the ability of the firm to source inputs at reasonable cost as well as the scale of operation. The cement product industry especially the asbestos cement manufacturers celebrates thrust given by the government on rural infrastructure – especially on rural housing through Indira Awaas Yojana which is a positive indicator because cement product sector derives sizeable portion of demand from rural housing sector and rest from industrial sheds. So the players with strong focus on rural segment like, Everest industries and strong brand s are better placed. Post monsoon the demand in northern market may continue to be strong driven mainly by the common wealth game related development activity.

Union Budget 2009-10 has increased the excise duty incidence on cement products from 4% to 8%. But with speedy implementation of infrastructure and development projects, it will help Cement and Cement Product sectors industry to sustain its strong demand. Cement is the major input used by the industry especially the asbestos cement manufacturers. According to CMIE (Center For Monitoring Indian Economy) cement prices are expected to weaken in second half of 2009-10 as 35 million tonnes of fresh cement capacity will come on stream, which will put pressure on realizations of company.

A total addition of 270,000 MT in the sheeting industry during the year along with 4.5% growth rate in sheeting industry has put pressure on pricing and sales volume. Chrysotile asbestos sheets which is one of the major raw material used in cement product industry is majorly imported from china and brazil, so depreciated Indian rupee will hit industry margins.

Growth for Cement product industry depends on Real estate and construction and nfrastructure relted activity. With the initiatives made by the government in various infrastructure projects, road networks and housing facilities, coupled with the housing sector boom and urban and rural development, high growth in the cement product industry is expected in forthcoming years.

Fibre cement sheets are gaining popularity because of their strong physical properties as compared other roofing materials. The fiber cement industry is estimated to grow at 5% for financial year 2009-10.

Asbestos cement industry is growing at 10-12%. Industry was relatively untouched by global turmoil but industry may find it difficult to survive with campaigns against asbestos products. If asbestos loses out then companies with diversified product portfolio with be able to outperform.

Cement is a necessary component of infrastructure development and a basic raw material for the construction industry. The total utilization of cement in a year is used as an indicator of economic growth. India is the world's second largest producer of cement after China, with cement companies adding nearly eight million tonnes (MT) capacity in April 2009, taking the total installed capacity to 219 MT.

Hyderabad industries limited is leading manufacturer of fibre cement sheets in india with an estimated market share of about

HIL outperformed fibre cement sheet industry with 7% growth as compared to 4.5% growth of industry.

Company is making continous efforts to increase production capacity of of existing plants so as to retain significant share in the market.

In order to expand its product reach company is assessing strategic locations to set up new plants

With the growing demand for thermal insulation products, company is assessing development of new applicatons and strategic acquisition to increase market size.

During FY 2009 Company gross revenue registered a growth of 27% to Rs 663.97 crores from Rs 523.47 crores previous

Fibre cement sheet being the main product accounts for about 85% of company¡¦s sales. Production and sales (quantity) registered a growth of 1% and 7% to 668955 MT and 698119 MT respectively for FY 2009

New units at Balasore & Vijaywada for fibre cement sheets and Surat for AAC plants getting streamlined will improve margins of comapny.

Production and sales (quantity) of thermal insulation products have increased by 19% and 21% to 4616 MT and 2728 MT respectively for FY 2009. With the success of Green Building products and sucessful expansion taken by the company we expect further growth in this product line.

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Fairwealth Securities Pvt Ltd does not bear any responsibility for authentication of the information contained in the reports and consequently is not liable for any decision taken based on the same. Further Fairwealth Research report only provides information updates and analysis.

All opinions for buying and selling are available to investors when they are registered clients Of Fairwealth Investment advisory services. As a matter of practice, Fairwealth refrains from publishing any individual names with its reports. As per SEBI requirements it is stated that, Fairwealth securities Pvt Ltd, and/or individuals thereof may have positions in securities referred herein and may make purchases or sale while this report is in circulation.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Workers and activists demand ban on asbestos

Trade unions, human rights activists and workers demonstrated in front of FICCI House in New Delhi on 5 Feberuary and called upon the governments of India and Canada to halt the trade in white asbestos. They urged them to invest instead in addressing the occupational and safety concerns of workers and consumers using asbestos and ensuring compensation to all harmed by asbestos.

The demonstration was organised by AICCTU, AITUC, TUCC, NTUI and BANI to bring the issue to the attention to the Canadian leader Jean Charest currently visiting India. A joint letter was also sent to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh by several trade unions and NGOs calling upon him to immediately Ban Asbestos and to ensure passage of the White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill 2009 pending in Parliament.

In a press conference today, activists and labour union leaders alleged that the powerful asbestos industry was intimidating and silencing workers, doctors, scientists and activists from articulating the facts about the deadly effects of asbestos. They said that medical experts and scientists all over the world have been warning of the health effects of asbestos usage but governments of India and Canada are ignoring such warnings.

Trade union leaders and human rights activists also sent a message to Quebec's Premier Mr. Charest to stop shipping chrysotile asbestos to India when his own government was spending millions of dollars to remove chrysotile asbestos from Quebec's schools, hospitals and buildings. Mr. Charest was exhorted to listen to the world's leading, authoritative scientific institutions and experts who are asking him to stop exporting asbestos. The speakers appealed to Mr Charest to respect Canada's respectable human rights record and to put people over profit and disclose the truth about chrysotile asbestos with India.

An appeal was also made to Dr. Manmohan Singh to face the truth that Quebec's public health tragedy was being exported to India even as chrysotile asbestos was banned there. The activists alleged that with declining use for asbestos in developed countries, asbestos trade is being shifted toward developing countries.

The speakers at the demonstration claimed that a powerful message was sent out that developing countries can not be turned into global dumping grounds through transfer of hazardous industries and hazardous waste without regard for the human and environmental rights.

Trade unions and activists called upon Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Charest to:

* Ban mining, manufacture, use and trade of asbestos in India and Canada
* Let the health experts set the policy on asbestos
* Revise their stand and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention
* Ratify the ILO Convention on Asbestos
* Close all asbestos mines and take concrete steps to address the occupational, safety and compensatory concerns of workers employed in asbestos related industries

Few workers afflicted with asbestos related diseases claimed in the press conference that they were sufferings from the incurable illnesses with no legal and medical remedy in sight.

The Press Conference was co-organised by Building and Wood Workers' International, Delhi Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union, New Trade Union Initiative, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Governments Betray Workers by opposing BAN ON ASBESTOS

PRESS RELEASE: 5 February 2010, New Delhi

Indian and Canadian Governments Betray Workers by opposing
Stop! silencing workers, doctors, scientists and activists

Trade unions, human rights activists and workers today demonstrated in front of FICCI House and called upon the governments of India and Canada to halt the trade in white asbestos. They urged them to invest instead in addressing the occupational and safety concerns of workers and consumers using asbestos and ensuring compensation to all harmed by asbestos.

A joint letter was also sent to Dr. Manmohan Singh by AICCTU, AITUC, TUCC, NTUI and BANI calling upon him to immediately Ban Asbestos and ensure passage of the White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill 2009 pending in Parliament.

At the press conference today speakers from several organisations called upon Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India and Mr. Charest visiting premier (chief minister) of Quebec to stand up to the powerful asbestos industry in both countries which is spending millions of dollars to intimidate and silence workers, doctors, scientists and activists from articulating a truth that has been gathered over 300 years by medical experts and scientists, namely – that asbestos kills! There is no safe use of asbestos!

Mr Charest STOP! this hypocrisy
Trade unions and human rights activists sent a message to Mr. Charest to stop shipping chrysotile asbestos to India when his own government is spending millions of dollars to remove chrysotile asbestos from Quebec's schools, hospitals and buildings. Quebec’s own health experts have told Mr. Charest that the evidence is undeniable that it is impossible to manage chrysotile asbestos safely. Mr. Charest was exhorted to listen to the world's leading, authoritative scientific institutions and experts who are asking him to stop exporting asbestos. The speakers appealed to Mr Charest to respect Canada’s tremendous human rights record and put people over profit and tell the truth about chrysotile asbestos. He is on a trade mission promoting education & science and accompanied by Quebec university presidents. Therefore they should speak up to defend scientific freedom of speech!

Dr Manmohan Singh – ACT NOW! to prevent another Bhopal

Trade unions and human rights activists urged Dr. Manmohan Singh to face the truth that Quebec is exporting its public health tragedy to India even as it has stopped use of chrysotile asbestos in its own country. The Indian government should recognise that in face of declining use for asbestos in developed countries, corporate greed has forced a shift in asbestos trade toward developing countries. Today a powerful message was sent out that our countries can not be turned into global dumping grounds through transfer of hazardous industries and hazardous waste without regard for the labour-, human- and environmental rights.

Trade unions and activists called upon Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Charest to:
• Ban mining, manufacture, use and trade of asbestos in India and Canada.
• Let the expert health authorities of both countries set the policy on asbestos, not the asbestos lobby
• Revise their stand and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention.
• Ratify the ILO Convention on Asbestos.
• Close all asbestos mines and take concrete steps to address the occupational and safety concerns of workers employed in asbestos related industries; ensure compensation for workers harmed by asbestos and support a just transition for workers losing employment due to a ban on the mining, use in manufacture, and trade in asbestos.

At the conference victims of asbestos diseases narrated their sufferings from the incurable and fatal illnesses who are dying a slow death with no legal and medical remedy in sight. The Press Conference was co-organised by Building and Wood Workers’ International, Delhi Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union, New Trade Union Initiative, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI).

Contact: D. Thankappan (New Trade Union Initiative), 011-26214538; Rajiv Dimri (All India Central Council of Trade Unions), 9968125770; Anup Srivastava (Building and Wood Workers’ International), 9810238394; Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), 9818089660, Mohit Gupta, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India, 9811369045, Amjad Hassan (Delhi Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union), 9868157860.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Excerpts from 27 January, 1995 Judgement in Asbestos Case

Consumer Education & Research Centre And Others VS. Union Of India & Others








CITATION: 1995 AIR 922 1995 SCC (3) 42

JT 1995 (1) 636 1995 SCALE (1)354

ACT: JUDGMENT: 1. Occupational accidents and diseases remain the most appalling human tragedy of modem industry and one of its most serious forms of economic waste. Occupational health hazards and diseases to the workmen employed in asbestos industries are of our concern in this writ 640

petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution by way of public interest litigation at the behest of the petitioner, an accredited Organisation. At the inception of filing the writ petition in the year 1986, though it highlighted the lacuna in diverse provisions of law applicable to the asbestos industry, due to orders of-this Court passed from time to time, though wide gaps have been bridged by subordinate legislation, yet lot more need to be done. So the petitioner seeks to fill in the yearning gaps and remedial measures for the protection of the health of the workers engaged in mines and asbestos industries with adequate mechanism for and diagnosis and control of the silent killer disease " asbestosis", with amended prayers as under- (a) Directions to all the industries and the official-respondents to maintain compulsorily and keep preserved health records of each workman for a period of 40 years from the date of beginning of the employment or 10 years after the cessation of the employment, whichever is later;

(b) To direct all the factories to adopt


(c) To direct all industries to compulsorily insure the employees working in their respective industries, excluding those already covered by the Employees State Insurance Act and the Workmen Compensation Act so as to entitle the workmen to get adequate compensation for occupational hazards or diseases or death;

(d) To direct the authorities to appoint a committee of experts to determine the standard of permissible exposure limit value of 2 fibre/cc and to reduce to 1-fibre/cc for Chrystolite type of asbestos, 0.5-fibre/cc for Amosite type of asbestos and for the time being 0.2-fibre/cc for Crocidolite type of asbestos at par with the international standards;

(e) To direct the appropriate Govenunents to cover the workmen and to extend them Factories Act or by suitable regulatory provisions contained therein to all small scale sectors which arc not covere...

Indian and Canadian Governments Betray Workers by opposing Indian and Canadian Governments Betray Workers

Press Conference/demonstration on dual standards of Quebec government

Press Invite: Press Conference/demonstration on dual standards of Quebec government

Press Invite


The Editors/Bureau Chief

Subject: Press Conference/demonstration on dual standards of Quebec government in exporting toxic asbestos to India: 5th February 2010, New Delhi

This is to invite you to a press conference and a demonstration to expose Quebec’s dual standards in exporting toxic asbestos to India in the backdrop of the ongoing visit by Quebec's Premier Mr Charest for a trade mission to India. Over 100 scientists from 28 countries have sent a letter to Mr Charest on January 28, 2010 saying “Quebec itself is experiencing an appalling epidemic of asbestos-related disease… and yet it is exporting asbestos to developing countries where there are far less protections than in Quebec. This is simply indefensible." In his response to the media, on 29th January, Mr Charest has said that he will pay ‘no attention’ to the letter by the scientists.

Attempts by trade unions and workers in Mumbai and Delhi to meet with Mr Charest on 1st and 5th February, respectively has not been successful. Trade unions and voluntary organisations from India have sent letters to him which remains unresponded.

Members of the press are invited to the following on 5th February 2010 in New Delhi:

1. Demonstration by trade unions/voluntary groups: Time: 11.30 am, Venue: Infront of FICCI House, Mandi House (New Delhi)
2. Press Conference by trade unions/environmental and health activist: Time: 3-6 pm. Venue: Press Club of India, Raisina Road New Delhi 110 001.

Looking forward to your positive response.

For Details contact:

Mr Mohit Gupta (Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India)- 09811369045

Mr Gopal Krishna (Ban Asbestos Network of India) -09818089660

Mr Anup Srivastava (Building and Woodworkers International)- 09810238394

Mr. Amjad Hassan (Delhi Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union) - 09868157860

Joint letter requesting the Hon'ble PM to Immediately Ban Asbestos

4 February 2010

The Hon’ble Shri Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India

New Delhi- 110 101

Dear Mr. Singh,

Immediate Ban on Asbestos

We are writing to you in light of the visit of Mr. Charest, Premier of Quebec to India with a 130 member trade delegation. As you are aware Quebec has a long and deplorable history of promoting asbestos exports to India even as it has banned the use of asbestos in Quebec itself (Ref. Annexure 1 - Letter written to Mr. Charest by scientists of 28 countries on the eve of his visit to India).

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 introduced by the Member of Parliament from your party representing Maharashtra, Shri Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, in the Rajya Sabha on 31 July 2009 captures clearly the global stand on this issue:

The white asbestos is highly carcinogenic even the World Health Organisation has reported that it causes cancer. It is a rare fibrous material that is used to make rooftops and brake linings. More than fifty countries have already banned the use and import of white asbestos. Even the countries that export it to India prefer not to use it domestically. But in our country, it is imported without any restriction. Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported almost Ninety five percent of the white asbestos it mined and out of it forty-three percent was shipped to India. It is quite surprising that our country is openly importing huge quantity of a product, which causes cancer. This is despite the fact that safer and almost cheap alternatives to asbestos are available in the country. Instead of importing a hazardous material, it will be better if we spend some money in research and development and use environment friendly product. In view of the above, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative material.

The International Labour Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the International Programme on Chemical Safety, the European Union, the Collegium Ramazzini, the International Social Security Association, the International Commission on Occupational Health all support a global ban on asbestos.

Even the Supreme Court of India recognised in 1995 the hazards of asbestos in the case of Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) versus Union of India and more recently, in 2009 the Kerala Human Rights Commission noted that “exposing Indians to asbestos is a human rights violation”.

Therefore, we call upon the Government of India to:

* Take steps to reduce, with the aim of stopping, its import of asbestos from Canada (mined mainly in the province of Quebec) and from all other exporting countries.
* Ban mining, manufacture, use and trade of asbestos in India.
* Ensure the passing of the White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill 2009 introduced in the Rajya Sabha in July 2009 (Bill No. XIII of 2009).
* Revise its stand and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention.
* Ratify the ILO Convention on Asbestos.
* Take concrete steps to address the occupational and safety concerns of workers employed in asbestos related industries; ensure compensation for workers harmed by asbestos and support a just transition for workers losing employment due to a ban on the mining, use in manufacture, and trade in asbestos.

Yours sincerely,

Swapan Mukherjee

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU)


H. Mahadevan

All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)


Ashim Roy

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)


S. P. Tiwari

Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC)


Gopal Krishna

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)


Annexure 1: Letter of scientists from 28 countries to Mr. Charest, Premier of Quebec, Canada

Copies to:

1. The Environment Minister

2. The Health Minister

3. The Commerce Minister

4. The Finance Minister

5. The Mines Minister

6. The Consumer Affairs Minister

7. The Labour Minister

8. The Chemicals Minister

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Make India Asbestos Free – It kills !

Ghatkopar land sold to Wadhwa for Rs571 crore

In a major land deal in the city, asbestos products maker Hindustan Composites announced, on Monday, that it would sell its 18-acre property on LBS Marg, Ghatkopar to the Mumbai-based Wadhwa Group for Rs571 crore. Including the stamp duty, the value of the land is expected to go up to Rs600 crore with the land rate roughly working out to be Rs4,000 per square feet.

Vijay Wadhwa, chairman, Wadhwa Group said that they have taken a loan of approximately Rs300 crore from IndiaBulls Financial Services Ltd and raised the balance Rs271 crore by way of sales and discounting a few of properties they had leased.

Realty experts said the deal would provide Wadhwa with the much needed confidence. Coupled with global slowdown, the group had over-stretched itself after it had successfully bid Rs831 crore for a plot at Bandra Kurla Complex in 2007.

Many funds like Morgan Stanley had refused to back Wadhwa in the Composites land deal as they did not agree to the costing and profits projected by the developer.

“I always knew that the project cost will go over Rs7,000 per square feet as the plot is strategically located and also with the kind of development we have planned,” Wadhwa said. “In fact I have already sold 2.5 lakh square feet at Rs8,500 per square feet.”

The developer has plans to set up at least 15 residential buildings with over 1,100 apartments on land, which has a development potential of about 15 lakh square feet. Also, this development potential could go up substantially if Wadhwa takes advantage of the government’s parking FSI of 4.

January 19, 2010, DNA

Some basic facts
"Asbestos" is name given to a group of naturally occurring metamorphic minerals that are distinguished by their crystalline structures. There are three types of asbestos – Chrysotile (white asbestos); Crocidolite (blue asbestos) and amosite (brown asbestos). The Chrysotile is the most commonly used.

Asbestos is used mainly for water pipes or as roofing sheets in the construction industry. It is also used in the manufacture of pressure and non-pressure pipes used for water supply, sewage, irrigation and drainage system in urban and rural areas, asbestos textiles, laminated products, tape, gland packing, packing ropes, brake lining and jointing used in core sector industries such as automobile, heavy equipment, petro-chemicals, nuclear power plants, fertilisers, thermal power plants, transportation, defence, etc.

Hazards related to Asbestos Exposure
Breathing air containing asbestos dust causes fatal lung diseases. There is usually a long delay between exposure to asbestos dust and the onset of the disease; this can be between 10 and 50 years. The more you are exposed to asbestos, the more chance you will get sick later on. Diseases caused due to Asbestos exposure include – Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, Pleural Thickening and Lung Cancer.
Both workers and consumers are at risk, therefore use of all forms of asbestos products must be stopped with immediate effect.

Indian Context
An unprecedented environmental and occupational health crisis with regard to unnoticed asbestos epidemic in our country is on the horizon. It is high time concerned authorities took note of exposures of workers installing and maintaining asbestos-cement pipe and asbestos cement roof, which is quite high.

The Supreme Court of India has ruled that the Government of India must comply with ILO resolutions, so far the ILO resolution (June 14, 2006) stating “the elimination of the future use of asbestos and the identification and proper management of asbestos currently in place are the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos exposures and to prevent future asbestos-related disease and deaths” has not been acted upon.

Supreme Court has ordered that the industrial units must maintain a health record of every worker up to a minimum period of 40 years; insure workers under the Employees State Insurance Act or Workmen's Compensation Act; or give health coverage to every worker. This has been disregarded.

Global Scenario
Some 50 countries besides International Labour Organisation, World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation & others have realized that “safe and controlled use” of asbestos is not possible and consequently have banned asbestos because of the incurable but preventable cancer caused by this killer fiber.

What can be done?
Take steps to ensure that there is no more exposures to killer fibers of asbestos from now on. This can be done only by making India asbestos free.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Asbestos Crisis & Workers Response

Letter from Mumbai Workers

Note:One in every 5 workers is affected by asbestos-caused disease.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Quebec CM Urged By Indian Activists To Stop Exporting Asbestos

Note: In the backdrop of the visit by the Quebec's Chief Minister (Premier), a Press Conference was held at Mumbai Patrakar Sangh, Azad Maidan, Mumbai on 1st February, 2010. It was attended by both Indian and Canadian journalists. Victims of asbestos were also present at the conference.

Quebec Chief Minister (Premier) Jean Charest, arrived in India on 31st January, is being pressed by environmental activists to stop mining and exporting asbestos.

Public health and environmental groups have plans to protest against him. Over 100 scientists from 28 countries have already appealed to Charest to acknowledge the dangers of asbestos and stop exporting it to developing countries.

They said in their joint letter, “…we appeal to you to respect the overwhelmingly consistent body of scientific evidence and the considered judgment of the World Health Organization (WHO) that all forms of asbestos have been shown to be deadly and that safe use of any form of asbestos has proven impossible anywhere in the world.”

Quebec’s own public health experts, prominent health experts across Canada, as well as the Canadian Medical Association, have all called for an end to use and export of asbestos, the scientists point out.

The province is experiencing an appalling epidemic of asbestos-related disease. Official data shows 134 new cases of mesothelioma reported in Quebec.

Exposure to asbestos is the single biggest cause of worker death. Figures for 2009 from the Quebec Workers’ Compensation Board show 60% of occupational deaths were caused by asbestos.

”This is a public health calamity and one that would not have happened if the industry’s denial of the hazards of asbestos had not been believed,” the letter says and urges, “We call on you not to export this same public health tragedy to developing countries, where surely there is more than enough injustice and suffering already.”

In 2007, facing high numbers of cases of asbestosis, the government’s health authorities set up a special program, using a mobile x-ray clinic to travel around the province and give chest x-rays to construction workers, in an endeavour to identify and aid workers with signs of asbestosis.

Virtually all Quebec’s asbestos is exported to developing countries, where protections are few and awareness of the hazards of asbestos almost non-existent.Quebec itself does not use chrysotile asbestos because of strong public opposition.

According to a spokesperson for Quebec’s Occupational Health & Safety Commission (CSST), the government of Quebec has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy for exposure to asbestos. "We applaud your government for seeking thus to protect Quebec workers from asbestos harm. We call on you to show equal concern for the lives of workers in the developing world," the scientists said.

Accusing the Quebec government of double standards, the experts said, ”We find it shocking that the exposure level you endorse for people overseas is a ten times higher than the level permitted by all of the other provinces in Canada, by the U.S., by the European Union and by other Western industrialized countries. It is one hundred times higher than the exposure level permitted in several countries, such as Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.”

Referring to instances of intimidation of public health experts by the asbestos industry, the scientists appealed to Mr. Charest not to succumb to the lobby but protect the interests of the people at large.

1997, Canada exported 430,000 tonnes of asbestos - more than 96% of production - most of it to the developing world. Canada is the world's second-largest exporter of asbestos after Russia.

Critics of Canada's asbestos exports say the country is exporting death to protect the profits of a handful of companies and the jobs of 1,600 miners.

"What's the difference between land mines and asbestos?" asks Dr. Barry Castleman, author of a respected book on the danger of asbestos. "A key difference, of course, is that Canada doesn't export land mines."

All of the asbestos mines in Canada are in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province with a separatist government.

Federal and provincial politicians are pushing asbestos exports to prove that they are successful at developing overseas markets, and are protective of Quebec workers. Critics of asbestos exports say the industry would probably be allowed to die if it had been centred in any other part of the country.

"Personally, I believe this is all about Quebec politics," says Canadian Auto Workers Health and Safety director Cathy Walker. "The Canadian and Quebec governments are competing with one another to show just how prepared they all are to protect Quebec jobs."

The real costs will be borne by the developing world, she says.

Walker just returned from India, where she saw unprotected workers slashing open bags of asbestos fibres. In places where the asbestos was being mixed into cement, clouds of the carcinogenic fibres swirled around workers.

In 2008, Canada exported 175,000 tonnes of chrysotile - almost all of it to developing nations like India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Industry critics have declared that safety precautions are rarely enforced in those countries.

In Britain, the Cancer Research Campaign said in January that its study into the European asbestos-linked cancer epidemic should sound alarm bells everywhere, "particularly in the developing world where uncontrolled asbestos is still very common," said CRC director Gordon McVie.

Philip Landrigan, of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine - the centre that first linked cancer to asbestos in the 1960s - says the asbestos lobby's claim that the fibre is safe is "absolutely untrue."

"Asbestos remains an important cause of human illness," says Landrigan. "All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic, and that includes Canadian chrysotile."

Source: news reports on internet

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