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, February 4, 2010

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

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