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 10, 2011

Anti Asbestos Movement Reaches Patna

Press Statement

Massive Citizens March Against Asbestos Plants in Bihar

Memorandum Demanding Change in Asbestos Industry Submitted to CM

Delegation Demanding Ban on Killer Meets Bihar Industry Minister

Patna/New Delhi 10 February: Inhalation of asbestos fibres has been shown to lead to a number of serious health risks, including asbestosis and the cancer mesothelioma which are preventable but incurable. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) supports the Citizens March against asbestos plants in Bihar and the struggle of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jansangharsh Committee against the proposed plant in Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur. This movement of the Committee is unprecedented.
On 10th February a massive rally in Patna culminated in Citizens Forum Against Asbestos submitting a memorandum seeking cancellation of industrial license given to the proposed asbestos based factory in Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur and other places where such plants are proposed. The official who met the delegation Mr Shamim Ahmed, Deputy Secretary, Bihar Government asked the delegation to meet the Bihar Health Minister to apprise him of the potential health hazards from the killer fibers of asbestos.

Earlier, on 9th February a delegation of Citizens Forum Against Asbestos met Dr Renu Kumari, Bihar’s Industry & Disaster Management Minister and briefed her about the hazards from asbestos. She has promised to visit the factory site within a week. The delegation also met Dr Jaganath Mishra, former Chief Minister. BANI was part of these delegations.

A Fact Finding visit to Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur on 9th February took the testimonies of the women victims of police repression. These women were protesting against the asbestos plant in their village. The team comprised of BANI, a news Channel TV99 and noted journalist & author Pushpraj who were struck by the slogans of the children and adults celebrating Saraswati Puja. Instead of chanting religious slogans, they were shouting “Cancer Factory Band Karo” and “Balmukund Go Back” in front of the idol of the Goddess Sarswati. It appeared as if the Goddess is inspiring the villagers to protect themselves from the ticking time bomb called asbestos. The anger against the proposed hazardous plant by Balmukund Cement & Roofing Ltd is quite palpable. The villagers revealed that strange women from some public relations agency have been hired by the company to lure and seduce the villagers to change their views.

Asbestos becomes a hazard when microscopic fibre fragments become airborne and are inhaled which they always do. Due to their size and shape they can remain airborne for some time, and enter even the smallest air passages in the lungs where they embed in lung tissue. The fibres are highly resistant to removal by the lungs’ natural cleaning processes.

BANI demands Bihar government should not to succumb to pressure from the likes of Clément Godbout, president of the asbestos lobby group that includes the Chrysotile Institute, Chrysotile Asbestos Products Manufacturers and Asbestos Information Centre. The uninformed reaction of the Bihar chapter of Confederation of Indian Industry and Bihar Chambers of Commerce in support of killer asbestos industry is a classic case of blind profit mongering at any human cost.

Residents and policymakers in Bihar must examine places in the houses and buildings where can asbestos be found.

Asbestos fibers are incredibly strong and have properties that make them resistant to heat. Many products are in use today that contain asbestos. Most of these are materials used in heat and acoustic insulation, fire proofing, and roofing and flooring. Although banned in 55 countries because safe and controlled use of asbestos of all kinds is impossible, many of the asbestos based products are still be in use. These include asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, asbestos-cement pipe, asbestos-cement shingle, roof coatings, flooring felt, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, asbestos clothing, non-roof coatings, vinyl/asbestos floor tile, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, commercial and industrial asbestos friction, products, sheet and beater-add gaskets, commercial, corrugated and specialty paper, millboard, roll board, water supply pipes, kitchen utensils etc.

Notably, Australia and the UK have the highest rates of asbestos-related death in the world because of past exposure compelling them to ban this killer fiber. Bihar should avoid such a path of industrialization. These deaths take place because of the misinformation campaign of the asbestos industry. Asbestos, now banned in the Europe, kills up to 4000 people a year in the UK alone. In India, there is no agency to collect the data of these ongoing deaths because none of our medical colleges diagnose asbestos related diseases.

It must be noted that ten thousand US citizens die each year -- a rate approaching 30 deaths per day -- from diseases caused by asbestos, according to a detailed analysis of government mortality records and epidemiological studies by US based Environmental Working Group. Asbestos kills thousands more people than skin cancer each year, and nearly the number that are slain in assaults with firearms. It has been revealed that the suite of diseases linked to asbestos exposure overwhelmingly affect older men.

The state government must announce a policy and a programme to ban future use of asbestos and decontaminate the existing places where it is found.
BANI demands that to begin with state government must make State legislature buildings, courts, schools and hospitals asbestos free.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)/Asbestos Mukri Andolan, Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480,


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