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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Indian Position at UN's Rotterdam Convention's COP5


Shri Nitish Kumar
Chief Minister
Government of Bihar

Subject-Indian Position at UN's Rotterdam Convention's COP5


This is to draw your attention towards the upcomg UN's Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties (COP5) in Geneva June 20 – 24, 2011 the recommendation of the Convention’s scientific experts to list chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) will be put forward once again. I am copying this message to world renowned environmental and occupational health experts and jurists for their advice.

I wish to submit that the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade to be held in Geneva wherein the fate of Endosulfan, Chrysotile asbestos and some other chemicals will be decided. The objective of the Rotterdam Convention “is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm.”

I am attaching my letter to a Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and Smt Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha and former Union Health Minister in this regard for your perusal and consideration.

The UN's Rotterdam Convention provides a basic human right for developing countries – the right of “prior informed consent” regarding hazardous chemicals & pesticides. To date, under the influence of Quebec govt and Russian govt, Indian
govt has refused to support this basic human right.

I wish to draw your attention towards Union Environment Ministry’s 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 which reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”. This is available on Ministry’s website.

In order to meet its objective, COP5 of Rotterdam Convention will consider the inclusion in Annex III of chrysotile asbestos, Endosulfan, Alachlor and Aldicarb under agenda item 5 c during the meeting scheduled for June 20-24, 2011.

It is noteworthy that the inclusion in Annex III of Rotterdam Convention does not equate to a prohibition of trade. It imposes requirements on exporting nations to provide basic information to consumers and customers environmental health hazards due to certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

I wish to inform you that there has been several attempts to include chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) on the prior informed consent list have failed due to the influence of asbestos producing countries who are compelled by their companies led by Quebec based Canadian companies who have succeeded in preventing any action on chrysotile asbestos being taken.

I submit that discussions on chrysotile asbestos at the COP 4 of Rotterdam Convention in 2008 took a decision to examine its listing at COP5 in June 2011.

In a statement as Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ministry, you had informed the Rajya Sabha saying: "Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, have shown that long-term exposure to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma'' on August 18, 2003.

This clearly implies that white asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is a health hazard which is essentially what COP5 is to decide in Geneva. As you are aware White asbestos or Chrysotile asbestos is used mainly for water pipes or as roofing sheets in construction industry. Asbestos dust can be inhaled while drilling, cutting a pipe, repairing, renovating or demolishing a building and its effects are far-reaching, affecting everyone from the person mining it to the ultimate consumer. Clinical reports show that asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer can show up even 25 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

In view of the above mentioned facts, I request you to recommend to CCEA to support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention.

I will be happy to share more details in this regard.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
Member, Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA)
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi
Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480,

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