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, June 16, 2011

Canadian & Israeli Doctors Warn Against Asbestos Plants in Bhojpur

Press Release

Canadian & Israeli Doctors Warn Against Asbestos Plants in Bhojpur

Erin Brockovich of South America Supports War Against Asbestos Plants

Take Lessons from 70 year old Asbestos Mistakes of Israel: Prof Richter

16/6/2011 New Delhi-In a letter to Bihar Chief Minister dated June 10, 2011, Dr Jean Zigby. President, Toronto based Canadian Association Physicians for the Environment and Kathleen Ruff, Senior Human Rights Advisor, Ottawa based Rideau Institute have asked him to halt the plan to open three asbestos plants in Bhojpur.

The letter states, “As a political leader, we hope that you will heed reputable, independent science and that you will make the protection of public health your top priority. We have written this letter in the hope of alerting you to the human tragedy that asbestos has caused in Canada and thus help to prevent a similar tragedy in India.”

The letter observes that “Government health experts have pointed out that there has been a complete failure to achieve “safe use” of asbestos in Canada itself and believe that “safe use” of asbestos is, in fact, impossible, anywhere in the world. The use of asbestos in the past has left a tragic legacy of asbestos-related disease and death in Canada and in very country where asbestos has been used. Besides Bhojpur, we have learnt that asbestos plants are proposed in Madhubani, Champaran, Vaishali and Muzaffarpur and your government has allotted land for four asbestos plants. In our opinion, such industrial units are inadvisable and medically indefensible.”

In a related development in a letter to Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) dated Jun 16, 2011, Erin Brockovich of Brazil, Fernanda Giannasi, Engineer and Labour Inspector at the Labour and Employment Superintendence in São Paulo, Brazil has expressed support for the tireless campaign against asbestos plants in Bhojpur and the proposal of such factories in Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, Vaishali, West Champaran etc. She is deeply concerned about the death toll due to the malevolent role of asbestos forces.

Giannasi feels that increasing awareness of the hazards of asbestos based products will lead to decline public demand. In effect, she has demanded boycott of asbestos products. She has been a Labour Inspector in Sao Paulo State for more than 25 years. She has received both Brazilian and international honours for her work with asbestos victims; in 2001, she was a successful finalist in the prestigious Claudia Award for Brazil's Woman of the Year. Giannasi was elected a Fellow of the renowned Italy based Collegium Ramazzini, a premier institute on environmental and occupational health.

She has spearheaded the ban asbestos campaign in South America. Given her pro-people and pro- worker reputation, a Brazilian asbestos mining company (SAMA) sought a court order to prevent Giannasi from inspecting its operations because of her “affiliation with a victims' advocacy group” on March 15, 2011. Giannasi has impounded asbestos shipments bound for Asia in the past. Giannasi is credited for having identified a source of widespread occupational disease whilst working in Brazil's asbestos heartland – an Osasco, an industrial town in Greater São Paulo. She visited New Delhi in 2002 and was dismayed to find that the situation of asbestos victims is not even acknowledged by the policy makers. It is indeed sad that there has not been even an iota of improvement since then.

The co-author of the letter from Canada, Ruff is the author of Exporting Harm: how Canada Markets Asbestos to the Developing World.

The copies of the attached letter from Canadian Association Physicians for the Environment and Rideau Institute has been sent to Sonia Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh, Lal Krishna Advani, Jairam Ramesh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma,
Pranab Mukherjee, Dr Murali Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitli, Dr C P Thakur, and Sushil Kumar Modi on behalf of 11 eminent specialists like Dr Éric Notebaert, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Montreal, Quebec; Dr Gilles Paradis, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FACPM, FAHA, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Colin L. Soskolne, PhD, Professor (Epidemiology), School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Dr Fernand Turcotte, MD, MPH, FRCPC. Professor Emeritus of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Québec, Canada, Dr Yv Bonnier Viger, MD, MSc, MM, CMSQ, FRCPC, Medical Specialist in Public Health and Preventative Medicine; Director of the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec; President of the Quebec Association of Physicians specializing in Community Health, Quebec, Canada, Dr John R. Keyserlingk, MD, MSc, FRCS , FACS, Surgical Oncologist, St Mary's Hospital & Hôpital du Sacré Coeur; Director, Ville Marie Oncology Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Dr Tim K. Takaro, MD, MPH, MS., Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Health, Sciences, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada, Dr Daya R Varma, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus, McGill University, Canada, Edward W. Keyserlingk, LLM, PhD, Professor of Medical Ethics & Health Law (retired), Faculty of Medicine, McGill University; former member, Law Reform Commission of Canada; formerly the Public Service Integrity Officer, Government of Canada, Abby Lippman, PhD, Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Quebec, Canada and Dr Pierre Deshaies, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Professeur de clinique, Department of Social and Preventative Medecine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec, Canada.

In a letter to BANI, Prof Elihu D Richter, MD, Hadassah. School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University- Jerusalem, Israel has expressed support for the ban asbestos campaign in Bihar in particular and India general saying, “India should not repeat the mistakes of going back some 70 years which will kill tens of thousands of workers and their families.” In the letter dated June 14, 2011, he has supported call for listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in UN list of Hazardous Chemicals. Prof Richter was in New Delhi in March 2011 and has co-signed the New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of asbestos including chrysotile from India. BANI feel that struggle against asbestos plants in Bhojpur and the global movement against these killer fibers is part of the same effort.

For Details: Dr Jean Zigby. President, Canadian Association Physicians for the Environment, Toronto, Ph: 416-306-2273 Web:

Kathleen Ruff, Senior Human Rights Advisor, Rideau Institute, Ottawa, Email:, Ph: 613-565-9449, Web:

Fernanda Giannasi, Engineer and Labour Inspector, São Paulo, Brazil,
Prof Elihu D Richter MD, Hebrew University-Hadassah. School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel E-mail:
Gopal Krishna Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 9818089660
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