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.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Muzaffarpur plant stir stokes ban-asbestos debate

NEW DELHI: Ongoing public protests in Muzaffarpur over an upcoming asbestos plant have forced the district administration to impose Section 144 near the facility, forcing stoppage of work and preventing protestors from gathering near the site.

The use of asbestos, which is known to cause lung cancer and silicosis, is banned in many countries around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Argentina, South Africa and Switzerland.

In India, though mining of asbestos is banned, units are allowed to manufacture asbestos products.

Muzaffarpur district magistrate Anand Kishore told TOI, "Section 144 has been imposed near the site of the asbestos plant. I have no information whether the project would be shelved for good."

Bihar is planning to open several asbestos plants in Bhojpur, West Champaran, Bettiah and Vaishali.

Bihar deputy chief minister and environment minister Sushil Kumar Modi refused to comment on the controversy. Government sources passed the buck to the Centre, saying the latter gave all the clearances to the firms.

In Muzaffarpur, a number of political parties -- such as CPI, CPI(M), SUCI --have urged the state government to permanently halt work the plant in public interest. They are also demanding for release of the protesters.

Sources in directorate general of mining safety say the ban on mining owing to health hazards doesn't make sense. Their arguement: During mining "about 2-3 inches of a 72-inch pit has asbestos, whereas there is 100% of it in a factory."

Director general of mining safety, Satish Puri, refused to be drawn into a controversy. "I cannot comment on policies. I can only talk about issues of mining safety. Asbestos is known to cause silicosis."

Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, who has been lobbying for a ban on asbestos, said India is a big asbestos market for countries like Australia and South Africa, which have banned its use but continue to mine it.

"Research has proved that it causes cancer. I'm aware of a lot of new units being set up in Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. I was undera lot of pressure to withdraw my Bill on asbestos ban. It got lapsed after my tenure got over. I want to re-introduce it, and have written to Rajya Sabha secretriat."

Abantika Ghosh, TNN, Feb 5, 2011

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