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, April 18, 2011

Canada’s Provincial Government Lies to Promote Chrysotile (White) asbestos

Press Release

Canada’s Provincial Government Lies to Promote Chrysotile (White) asbestos

Quebec Minister Misquotes India’s Supreme Court Order

Congress MP Pressurizing People to Support Asbestos Plant in Andhra Pradesh

New Delhi-Stooping to an unprecedented low in order to protect the profit mongers of asbestos mining industry, statement of Clément Gignac, Economic development minister, Canadian province of Quebec has done the unthinkable by claiming “Asbestos could help save lives in India”.

Gignac has been caught blatantly lying about the established toxicity of chrysotile asbestos and with regard to Supreme Court of India’s order of 21st January, 2011.
Gignac’s claims about having studied the ruling of India's highest court saying, "I read that ruling A to Z" is an impudent lie.

Did he read this significant aspect of the order dated January 21, 2011, wherein Supreme Court’s bench of Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar observed in para 15, “the Government has already presented the Bill in Rajya Sabha. The statement of objects and reasons of this Bill specifically notices that the white asbestos is highly carcinogenic and it has been so reported by the World Health Organisation. In India, it is imported without any restriction while even its domestic use is not preferred by the exporting countries.” It is noteworthy that Rajya Sabha is India’s Upper House of Parliament where once Bill is introduced, it never lapses.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India notes, “Canada and Russia are the biggest exporters of white asbestos. In 2007, Canada exported 95% of the white asbestos, it mined out of which 43% was shipped to India. In view of these facts, there is an urgent need for a total ban on the import and use of white asbestos and promote the use of alternative materials. The Bill is yet to be passed but it is clearly demonstrated that the Government is required to take effective steps to prevent hazardous impact of use of asbestos.”

In the light of the above, BANI seek apology from Gignac for attempting to misled the people in Quebec and Canada. He has been caught red handed.

Amidst bitter protests Gignac visited India twice and has approved support for the Jeffrey mine through a $58 million loan guarantee for blood tainted millions of dollars in taxes and royalties to Quebec which in turn will create a $7.5 million economic diversification fund for the region.

Jeffrey and its backers have to raise $25 million in financing by July 1, 2011. Montreal businessman Baljit Chadha's Balcorp Ltd must refrain from buying chrysotile asbestos from Jeffrey and selling the fibre to asbestos products manufacturers in India.

BANI salutes the role of Canadian Cancer Society which called on the Canada’s provincial government to withdraw its support for the Jeffrey mine expansion and endorses their statement,. "This decision directly conflicts with global cancer control. The epidemic of asbestos-related concerns, both in Canada and around the world, will continue to spread".

The question is: how many times does Quebec and Canadian government need to be proven wrong to realize that by playing into the hands of profit mongers who are indulging in barbarism and gross human rights violation, they are sinking the reputation of Quebec and Canada for good.

Meanwhile, revealing the brutal character of asbestos companies, it has reliably been learnt that Lagadapati Rajagopal, Congress MP from Vijaywada is putting pressure on people to approve the construction of a asbestos plant by Pune-based Sahyadri Industries that has proposed to establish this plant with a capacity of 1.8 lakh tonnes. Amid massive opposition to the asbestos factory, a public hearing is scheduled to be held on April 21, 2011. Some political people have warned people against disapproving the cancer causing asbestos plant at the public hearing.

The proposal of asbestos cement sheets factory at Narasimharao Palem, Veerulapalem mandal, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh would harm the present and future generations of people of Andhra Pradesh in particular. Notably, the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has not been made available to the affected communities and in the absence of the Telgu version of the EIA, the public hearing must be cancelled.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) supports the struggle of Jana Vignana Vedika and Citizens Forum Against Asbestos to stop the construction of killer plants in Andhra Pradesh

It abundantly clear that the Canadian asbestos traders have become more powerful than Governments of India, Canada and Quebec. Unmindful of the ongoing ban on asbestos in almost the entire developed world, Congress governments, its various fiscal policies and rural support schemes have been promoting asbestos based products and building materials under the influence of owners of asbestos companies.

There is at least one senior Congress leader and one MP of Indian National Congress who owns one of the biggest asbestos companies in the country. The MP’s asbestos company has built a asbestos factory in Raebarely, the parliamentary constituency of Sonia Gandhi. Former Cabinet Minister and veteran party leader, G Venkat Swamy who demanded the resignation of Gandhi is the father of G Vivekanand, a Congress Party MP and G Vinod, former minister in the Congress Party in the state till 2009. Vivekanand is the owner of Visaka Industries that has built the killer asbestos plant in Gandhi’s constituency.

Congress governments have been promoting asbestos companies without any moral scruples under the insurmountable influence of asbestos producers of Quebec, Canada and manufacturers in India. Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister has included asbestos under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna in his 2011-12 Budget Speech. Is it sufficient to deal with a health crisis caused due to killer fibers of asbestos that is estimated to cause some 50,000 deaths every year?

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) had written to the Finance Minister seeking incentives for alternatives of asbestos. But since 1982, as a Finance Minister, Mukherjee has extended the general scheme of excise duty concession to manufacturers of asbestos fibre and yarn. Since then, asbestos industry remains the pet child of the congress party or maybe it is the other way round.

The upcoming fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (COP-5) to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 20 – 24 June 2011 will once again decide the fate of inclusion of chrysotile in the list of hazardous chemicals.

If Indian government opposes inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list even now, it would clearly mean that it is being anti-worker, anti-people and anti- science. While presenting the Union Budget (1995-96), Manmohan Singh, the then Union Minister of Finance too had expressed his support for the asbestos industry on 15th March, 1995 saying, “I am also proposing reduction in excise duty in certain areas of general consumption on asbestos fibres from 20% to 10% and on asbestos cement articles from 30% to 25%.” Excise duty is a percentage tax levied on a company's revenue, instead of (like income tax) on the company's income.

The trend of making asbestos and its products artificially cheaper with the blessings of the ruling political party continues till today with the active support of Union Commerce Ministry and Union Finance Ministry, Environment Ministry’s environmental clearance to asbestos factories even as Union Health Minister expresses his helplessness to ban use of cancer causing asbestos fiber in the parliament.

In order to address the continuing burden of diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, the ILO has developed international standards and guidelines to contribute to the elimination of asbestos-related diseases (ARD) worldwide. This is in pursuance of the ILO resolution of June 2006 seeking “elimination of the future use of asbestos and the identification and proper management of asbestos currently in place” as “the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos exposure and to prevent future asbestos-related diseases and deaths”.

According to WHO estimates, more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposures. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos. The World Health Assembly Resolution 58.22 of 2005 on cancer prevention urges Member States to pay special attention to cancers for which avoidable exposure is a factor, including exposure to chemicals at the workplace. With Resolution 60.26, the World Health Assembly requested WHO “to carry out a global campaign for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases ".

Aren’t Governments of Quebec, Canada, India and Andhra Pradesh aware of it? Why are they pretending colossal ignorance about incurable diseases caused by exposure to asbestos fibers?

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India/National Alliance for Asbestos Free India, Mb: 9818089660, 07739308480,,


1 comment:

Paul8bee said...

It is up to India and other countries "NOT" to buy asbestos. Supply is not the problem. Demand is the Problem. If there is not demand, the supply end will just shrivel up. Don't blame the supplier, Blame the Buyer.

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